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THE 



COLLECTED WRITINGS 



James Henley Thornwell, d.d., lld., 



LATE PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 
AT COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA. 



EDITED BY 

JOHN B. ADGER, D.D., 

PROFESSOR OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND POLITY IN THE SAME SEMINARY. 



Vol. n.-THEOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL. 



RICHMOND: 
PRESBYTERIAN COMMITTEE OF PUBLICATION. 

NEW YORK: ROBERT CARTER & BROS. PHILADELPHIA: ALFRED MARTIEN. 
LOUISVILLE : DAVIDSON BROS. & CO. 

1871. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by 

CHARLES GENNET, 
in trust, as 

Treasurer of Publication op the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States, 

in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



CONTENTS. 



L OUTLINE OF THE COVENANT OF ORACE AND 
TESTIMONY TO SUBLAPSARIANISM. 

I. Outline op the Covenant of Grace. — Recapitulation of the 
Heads to which Theology was reduced in the previous Lectures. First 
head: Moral government as involving the relations of the creature to 
God as Creator and Kuler. Second head : The Dispensation of the 
Covenant of Works. Third head: The Dispensation of the Covenant 
of Grace, or Eedemption. Nature of the scheme of Redemption. Prin- 
ciples common to it and the Covenant of Works. Its distinctive pecu- 
liarities. Logical order of the topics involved in the discussion of the 
Covenant of Grace. 

II. SuBLAPSAKiANS AND SuPEALAPSARiANS. — L Moral significance 
of the distinction between these parties. 2. The question whether the. 
Divine decrees are conditioned. 3. Three opinions as to the order of 
the Divine decrees. 4. The state of the question between Sublapsarians 
and Supralapsarians. Reasons in support of Sublapsarianism. 5. The 
true order of the Decrees. The New School order. 

HI. Testimonies to Sublapsarianism. — 1. Helvetic Confession. 
2. Gallic Confession. 3. Anglican Confession. 4. Scotch Confession. 
5. Confession of Dort. 6. Synod of Dort. 

IV. Predestination as held by Sublapsarians. — 1. The decree 
respects man as fallen. Objections to Supralapsarian view. 2. The 
decree respecting man as fallen is absolutely sovereign. 3. The decree 
is to everlasting life, and the means to that end. 4. The decree is eternal. 
5. (L) Sublapsarian order of the decrees. (2.) Supralapsarian order. 
(3.) General-atonement-Calvinists' order. Redemption includes the gen- 
eral proposition of salvation ■Pafl'fi 17 

11. THEOLOGY AS A LIFE IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN 
THE CHURCH: BEING A REVIEW OF BRECKIN- 
RIDGE'S SUBJECTIVE THEOLOGY. 

An account of the design of Dr. Breckinridge's work. 1. Remarks 

upon the first point of the first book — the posture of the world luider tlie 

condemnation of sin as modified by grace. 2. Upon the second point— the 

3 



4 CONTENTS. 

nature and provisions of the Covenant of Grace. 3. The third point— the 
conditions of the covenant with respect to the sinner. Strictures upon the 
author's views. Faith maintained as the sole condition. 4. Upon the 
main subject of the treatise — the exhibition of the work of grace upon the 
human soul. 5. Upon the doctrine of the book as to the Church. The 
nature of the Church. Its relation to the State and to secular institu- 
tions. 6. Upon Dr. Breckinridge's views as to the future of the king- 
dom of God. 7. Estimate of the merits of the work Pmje 31 

ill. THE NECESSITY AND NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY. 

Description of the Apostle Paul at Athens. Analysis of his sermon 
on Mars' Hill. Eflects of the sermon. 1. The necessity of Christianity 
does not spring simply from man's ignorance. Its necessity not that of a 
mere revelation. Not simply a republication of natural religion. Chris- 
tianity discriminated from natural religion. Peculiar contents of each 
system. Necessity of Christianity that of a scheme which contemplates 
a work to be done as well as truths to be revealed. 2. The necessity of 
Christianity does not arise from the want of a new principle of govern- 
ment. It does not make sin pardonable upon mere repentance. Main- 
tains the principle of distributive justice. Provides for the pardon of sin 
in consistency with that principle. 3. The necessity of Christianity not 
a necessity created by the demands of governmental policy. The theory 
of mediation which grounds it upon public policy discussed. Dr. Ward- 
law's views considered. 4. The necessity and nature of Christianity as a 
scheme which reconciles the pardon of the guilty with the perfections of 
God and the principles of His government. The distinctive provisions 
of Redemption Page 55 

IV. ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

I. A precise statement of these doctrines as held by Presbyterians. II, 
Scriptural proofs that Election — 1. Is personal. 2. Contemplates man as 
a fallen being. 3. Is unto everlasting life or salvation. 4. Is from eter- 
nity. 5. Is sovereign. The Arminian view discussed. Elements and 
proofs of Reprobation. III. A consideration of prominent objections to 
Election and Reprobation — 1. That they are inconsistent with the justice 
of God. 2. That they ascribe partiality to God. 3. That they are incon- 
sistent with the sincerity of God. Distinction between the love of com- 
placency and the love of benevolence. Distinction between the decretive 
or secret and the preceptive or revealed will of God. Examination of 
Scripture passages adduced by Arminians. 4. That they are inconsistent 
with the liberty and responsibility of man. That no violence is done to 
these elements of human agency appears from the nature of efTectual call- 
ing. Its elements enumerated. 5. That they destroy all solicitude about 
personal holiness. Graces which election encourages. 6. That they ren- 
der the use of the means of grace nugatory. IV. Inferences from the doc- 



CONTENTS. 5 

trine of Election. 1. It pre-eminently glorifies God. (1.) The independ- 
ence and omnipotence of His will. (2.) His grace. (3.) His justice. 
2. It necessitates the perseverance of the saints. 3. It establishes the doc- 
trine of limited atonement. Distinction between the sufficiency and the 
extent of the atonement. The offer of the Gospel universal Page 105 

V. THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

Paul's argument in the Epistle to the Eomans. Its fundamental pos- 
tulate the inseparable connection between guilt and punishment. The 
Gospel God's power to save, because it provides a vicarious righteousness. 
The Gospel not simply a republication of natural religion. It pro- 
vides atonement. Two principles on which atonement rests — the insepa- 
rable connection between guilt and punishment, and the admissibility of 
a competent substitution. The necessity of atonement the necessity of 
a means to an end. Atonement the effect, not the cause, of saving mercy. 
The denial of unconditional pardon of guilt not inconsistent with God's 
perfections. The proof of the necessity of atonement must consist in show- 
ing that the glory of God necessitates the punishment of sin. The power 
to arrest the sentence of a judge not an essential element of sovereignty. 
In human governments it arises from the imperfection of legal processes. 
No real analogy between them and the Divine government in this respect. 
Discussion of the theory that atonement is demanded not by justice, but 
by wisdom ; is expedient, not necessary. Socinian and Hojikinsian views 
examined. The good of the subjects not the primary design of the Divine 
government : that end the glory of God. The end of the creation of the 
universe a moral one. This necessitates moral rule over moral agents. 
Three elements essential to moral government — competent authority, a 
rule of action and a suitable sanction. These suppose necessary rela- 
tions, and are consequently not dependent upon the suggestion of expe- 
diency. Proof that the authorit)^ of the Kuler is inalienable. Proof of 
the necessity of the law as a rule of action. Proof of the necessity of a 
penal sanction. The immutable necessity of the Divine government hav- 
ing been proved, the necessity of the punishment of sin is established. 
The punishment of sin, however, does not take place according to the 
analogy of physical laws. Sovereign discretion of God as to certain cir- 
cumstances attending its infliction. Discussion of the theory that repent- 
ance secures pardon. True repentance shown to be impossible to an 
unpardoned sinner. The infinite ill-desert of sin. The moral impossi- 
bility of annihilation. No escape to the unpardoned sinner from the 
penal consequences of sin. The substitution and atonement of Christ the 
only ground of the remission of gviilt. The glory of the cross.. .Paj^e 205 

VI. THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHEIST. 

The prominence given by the Scriptures to the priestly office of Christ. 
The doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans the legal substitution of 



6 CONTENTS. 

Christ. Tliat of the Epistle to the Hebrews the priesthood of Christ. 
Question : wliy mediation was accomplished, not by legal representation 
simply, but also by priesthood. The latter the method in which the law 
of substitution has been actually applied in the redemption of the race. 
Reasons for the priestly functions of Christ. 1. Conceptions of the origin 
of salvation are rendered clearer and more impressive by Christ's priest- 
hood. 2. The priesthood of Christ relieves His punishment of all appear- 
ance of inexorable rigour on the part of God. 3. The priesthood of 
Christ makes provision for the application of redemption. 4. The priest- 
hood of Christ stimulates devotion by the provision it makes for the 
acceptance of the imperfect worshij) of sinners. 5. The priesthood of 
Christ is the form of mediation in which consolation is most effectually ad- 
ministered. Inferences from the doctrine of Christ's priesthood..Pa5re 291 

VII. CHRIST TEMPTED AS THE SECOND ADAM. 

The temptation a most important portion of our Saviour's history. 
Rationalist objections to the narrative. The credibility of the account vin- 
dicated. Import of the temptation. 1. Christ is to be considered in His 
pul>lic character as the representative of men and unfallen angels. 2. The 
trial more severe and protracted than that of Adam for two reasons — 
(1.) The magnitude of the results. (2.) As a vindication of the princi- 
ple on which man had fallen. 3. The trial was public and conducted 
upon the same principles with that in Eden. The bitterness and inten- 
sity of the trial evinced by comparing it with that of Adam. 1. The 
place. 2. The extent — that is, the points at which both might be assailed. 
3. The thing to be tested and the mode of attack as adapted to the differ- 
ent circumstances of the parties. The sum of all is, Christ as the second 
Adam fulfils the second probation of the world. Inferences from the 
success of Christ — 1. The race had not been hardly dealt with in Adam. 
2. The sublimity of Christ's virtue was illustrated. 3. Individual life, 
as to temptation, is an analogue of the dispensation which rules the his- 
tory of the race Page 298 

VIII. THE GOSPEL, GOD'S POWER AND WISDOM. 

The Gospel as viewed by the Jew and the Greek. Why it was a stum- 
bling-block to the Jew. Why it was foolishness to the Greek. " Christ 
crucified " a compendious phrase for the scheme of redemption. The Gos- 
pel as proclaiming a crucified Saviour the highest exponent of God'f 
power and wisdom. Three forms in which God's power is displayed in 
the salvation of men — 1. In the exercise of naked strength, or of imme- 
diate causation, in producing new physical effects. To this kind of power 
must be referred the Incarnation, the Miracles of Jesus and His Resurrec- 
tion. 2. In the secret and silent influence which is exerted upon the 
rainds of men. The power which controls mind greater than that which 
creates and upholds matter. The regeneration and sanctification of sin- 



CONTENTS. 7 

ners extraordinary effects of power. 3. In the adjustment of the legal 
relations of sinners under the Divine government to the conflicting claims 
of justice and mercy. The greatest moral difficulties overcome in mak- 
ing the salvation of the sinner consistent with the principles of justice. 

The forms in which God's wisdom is displayed in redemption 1, In 

the manifestation of the Divine glory. The ultimate end of God the 
glory of His name. His immediate end is redemption, the salvation of 
sinners. The immediate contributes to the advancement of the ultimate 
end. The glory of God is most conspicuously displayed in the salvation 
of sinners. (1.) The attribute of mercy could not otherwise have been 
known. (2.) The scheme of redemption proves the compatibility of the 
exercise of mercy with that of justice. (3.) Sin is made the occasion for 
the most striking and glorious manifestation of the Divine excellences. 
2. Divine wisdom displayed in the adaptation of the means to the end in 
view. The employment of the principle of representation. The extra- 
ordinary constitution of Christ's person. 3. Divine wisdom displayed in 
redemption by so applying its blessings as to secure the distinct acknow- 
ledgment of grace. The repudiation of personal obedience as the ground 
of acceptance and the appointment of faith as the mere instrument of 
justification. Man becomes nothing, Christ all. Representation and Im- 
putation still employed as in man's first religion, and enforce our depend- 
ence on God's grace in Christ. 4. God's wisdom displayed in redemption 
by so arranging its provisions as to allure human confidence and secure 
the interests of personal holiness. The humanity of Christ provides for 
sympathy between Him and men, and His Deity affords the surest ground 
of confidence. Divine love draws us to Christ, and repels us from sin. 
Conclusion : the motives urging the subjects of grace to overflowing grati- 
tude. They are introduced into a supernatural world — the world of grace. 
They are endued with supernatural vision — the vision of faith. They 
behold Christ crucified the power and wisdom of God Page 334 



IX. THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY GHOST 

The defectiveness of the popular belief in regard to the nature, office 
and operations of the Spirit. The ministration of the Spirit the charac- 
teristic glory of the New Testament dispensation. The possession of the 
Spirit the true distinction of Christ's people. Bearing of our views of 
the Spirit upon the whole of redemption. The existence and functions 
of three Divine persons proved by the phenomena of grace, as the being 
of God is evinced by those of nature. The proof of the Trinity as de- 
rived from Christian experience. The experience which fails to recog- 
nize the personality of the Spirit essentially defective. The admission 
of the personality of the Spirit, and of the supernatural character of 
faith, stand or fall together. The formalist theory, which affirms a course 
of grace analogous to the course of nature, discussed. The operations of 
the Spirit supernatural, and imply a voluntary, sovereign agent. These 



8 CONTENTS. 

operations analogous not to the fixed order of nature, but to those extra- 
ordinary exercises of power which produce miracles. The means of grace 
are not laws, and the Spirit is not simply the invisible means connect- 
ing the spiritual cause with its effect. The experimental processes of 
grace necessitate the acknowledgment of the direct personal agency of 
the Spirit. The witness of the Spirit supposes the knowledge of a person 
who testifies, in contradistinction from our own spirit as witness. The 
objection met that, according to the author's theory, the means of grace, 
not having the efficacy of laws, are nugatory. The true end subserved by 
the means of grace expounded. The doctrine of supernatural grace vin- 
dicated from the charge of leading to fanatical enthusiasm. Enthusiasm 
defined, and supernatural illumination discriminated from it. Supernat- 
ural illumination and prophetic inspiration distinguished. Relation of 
faith as a supernatural gift to the supernatural phenomena of grace. 
The argument from abuse refuted. The importance of the doctrine of 
the Spirit's personality as a guard against formality on the one hand and 
fanaticism on the other Page 337 

X. THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

The senses in which the term Saviour has been used. The question is, 
In what does the salvation of Jesus consist ? The great end of the scheme 
of salvation is deliverance from sin and ruin, and the impartation of eternal 
life. The difficulties to be overcome growing out of man's condition. 
The depravity of man. The enmity of the carnal heart to God. The 
removal of this enmity necessary to salvation. This is done by removing 
its cause. The cause of enmity to God is the consciousness of sin and the 
dread of its consequences. This state can only be removed by the exhi- 
bition of Divine love. The principle of imputation furnishes the condi- 
tions upon which God's love can be shown to the sinner. His guilt is 
transferred to Christ and Christ's righteousness to him. Two results are 
thus secured. The sinner's guilt being removed, God can show him love, 
and the sense of guilt being destroyed, the sinner is able to love God. 
The final effect is that the sinner delivered from guilt is attracted to God 
by love manifested in the cross, and moved by the same cause to the 
hatred of sin Page 371 

XL ANTINOMIANISM. 

Definition of the term. Account of the origin of Antinomian princi- 
ples. The circumstances which produced the Antinomianism of the 
Apostolic age. The origin of the Antinomianism of the time of the 
Reformation. Legalism the parent of Antinomianism. Question of Dr. 
Crisp's relation to Antinomianism. The "Middle Way," a scheme origi- 
nating with Vossius and Grotius, and maintained by Richard Baxter and 
Bishop Bull. Arminian view of the relation between Calvinism and 
Antinomianism. Traill's refutation of that view. Vindication of the 



CONTENTS. 9 

Calvinistic doctrine of justification from leading to Antinomianism by 
Eobert Bragge. Bishop Bull's elaborate effort to reconcile justification by 
works with the grace of God. Eefutation of this and kindred schemes. 
Exposure of the error that grace is whatever is opposed to merit. In the 
Scriptures grace is not opposed to merit, but to legal obedience. The 
true antithesis pointed out. Important distinction between merit on the 
part of the moral agent and debt on the part of God. No connection 
between them. Definition of a legal scheme. The scheme of Baxter 
and BuU legal. No medium in principle between Pelagianism and Cal- 
vinism. Salvation, as including deliverance from the guilt and dominion 
of sin alike, is the free gift of God in Christ Page 383 

XII. CHEISTIAN EFFORT. 

I. The leading objects of Christian effort. 1. Personal holiness. 2. 
The edification of the Church. 3. The conversion of sinners. II. The 
manner in which Christian effort should be put forth. 1. Striving with 
earnestness. 2. Unanimity ; concert of action. 3. Steadfastness and reg- 
ularity. 4. The adoption of those measures alone which the Gospel war- 
rants. 5. Deep and entire dependence upon God for success. Import- 
ance of Christian effort Page S97 

Xin. THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, THE TYPE AND 
MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 

The nature of the Father's commission to the Son to execute redemp- 
tion. The free consent of the Son. His sovereign authority over His 
own life. He was Master of Himself. The Son an independent, sov- 
ereign party to the covenant of redemption. The death of Jesus a special 
ground of His Father's love to Him. Jesus a free, heroic actor in His 
death. His death a sacrifice rendered as a free-will offering. The nature 
of sacrifice ; its matter and form. Considerations which evince the moral 
greatness of Jesus in His death — 1. It was an act of worship. 2. The 
moral elements which entered into that act of worship. (1.) An intense 
zeal for the glory of God. (2.) Tender compassion for man. 3. These 
two elements, love to God and love to man, constitute the essence of vir- 
tue. The resurrection of .Jesus as also furnishing a special ground of 
His Father's complacency in Him. Application of the subject to the 
work of Missions as calling out the priestly character of believers — 1. The 
zeal for God's glory which characterized • Jesus in dying must be the 
dominant principle of action in the Christian heart. 2. The form which 
our zeal for the Divine glory is to take — that is, the works to which we 
should be impelled by it — is determined by the influence of the other 
motive which entered into the sacrifice of Christ, pity for man. 3. 
These two motives should not be transient emotions, but active and ope- 
rative principles leading to sacrifice of self. 4. As there was a joy set 



10 CONTENTS. 

before Jesus in dying, so there is a glorious reward attached to our sacri- 
fices and labours of love Page 411 

XIV. DISCOURSES ON TRUTH. 

Discourse I. — The Ethical System op the Bible. 

Design of the discussion to determine what there is in the domain of 
ethics peculiar to revelation, and what is the real nature and extent of 
our obligations to the Bible. Thus there may be attained a just estimate 
of secular morality and a proper appreciation of the Gospel. I. As to 
the simple knowledge of duty there may be on the one hand an exagge- 
ration of the necessity of revelation, and on the other of the sufficiency 
of reason. The spheres of revelation and reason distinguished. II. The 
superior efficiency of the Bible as teaching duty with greater certainty, 
and enforcing it by motives of greater power. III. The Bible as unfold- 
ing the scheme of redemption goes still farther : it teaches lessons new 
and distinctively its own which are unknown to philosophy. 1. It sheds 
new light upon the doctrine of Happiness. This exemplified by a com- 
parison of the teaching of the Bible as to the nature of happiness with 
that of Aristotle. 2. It is singular in its doctrine of Holiness, The 
nature of holiness. 3. It furnishes the only satisfactory answer to the 
question. How shall man accomplish the end of his being ? That answer 
is, The provision of a method by which a double work is supernaturally 
eflTected : first, a change in man's judicial relations ; secondly, a change in 
the temper and disposition of his soul Page 453 

Discourse II.— The Love op Truth. 

The purpose of this discussion, to show that the love of truth as a reg- 
ulative law of the whole man ought to attach to the processes of the 
understanding and the formation of opinions. The doctrine of the Scrip- 
tures is that the domain of morality extends to the whole man, including 
the understanding. 1. The will has jurisdiction over the whole man. 
The springs of action directed to the mind, especially curiosity, have an 
ethical character as coming under the jurisdiction of the will. 2. It is 
the prerogative of truth alone to invigorate the mind. 3. The intimate 
connection between tlie moral and intellectual natures renders lubricity 
of principle a consequent of confusion of the understanding as to truth. 
The theory discussed that the faculty which distinguishes between truth 
and falsehood is the same which distinguishes between right and wrong. 
4. The love of truth is the general habit of mind, of which honesty, frank- 
ness, sincerity and faithfulness are only specific manifestations. Examina- 
tion of the objection to these views that the operations of the mind in the 
department of speculative truth are exempt from the authority of the 
will. Mackintosh, Brougham. Men responsible for their opinions, 
because responsible — 1, For the motives which influence their mental 



CONTENTS. 1 1 

operations, and 2. For the circumstances which give direction to them. 
Practical conclusion : the obligation to make truth for its own sake the 
great end of intellectual effort Page 476 



Discourse III,— The Love of Truth. 

All men not bound to know all truth. But in the inquiries in which 
each man is engaged he is bound to seek nothing but truth. Each man 
is bound to seek that degree of knowledge which is necessary to furnish 
him for his particular sphere of duty. The design of this discussion is 
to point out the nature of the love of truth, and some of the prominent 
difficulties. which hinder the pursuit of truth. Commendation of Locke's 
view that the mind should be in a state of indifference as to what upon 
honest inquiry shall prove to be truth. The great and comprehensive 
law for the conduct of the understanding, that evidence is the measure 
of assent, expounded. The primary data of consciousness the standard 
and measure of evidence. The ways in which we are liable to be misled : 
first, in mistaking other things for these original data ; secondly, in mis- 
applying these data themselves. In the first, a wrong standard of judg- 
ment is assumed; in the second, a right standard is improperly used. 
To these two heads all prejudice ultimately referable. Specimens of these 
false methods. Importance of the principle that evidence is the measure 
of assent. Necessity of maintaining to this end liberty of discussion. 
The right temper of controversy. The danger resulting from tlie influ- 
ence of vanity upon the pursuit of truth. Similar danger from the influ- 
ence of the sense of shame Page 496 



Discourse IV.— Sinceritt, 

Two leading aspects of truth — speculative and practical. Practical 
truth includes three things: sincerity, faithfulness, consistency. The 
matter of veracity twofold — immediate and remote, I. The grounds of 
the obligation of veracity discussed. Views of Paley and Wliewell criti- 
cised. The real ground affirmed, II, The modes in wliich tlie law of 
sincerity is to be applied. 1. Application not to speech alone, but to all 
the signs of thought. 2. Application of the law in the case of parables, 
fictions, tales and figurative language. 3. Application of the law to what 
may be called interrogatories by action. 4. Application of the law to 
cases of silence, or partial and evasive information. III, Modes in which 
the law of sincerity is evaded, or deceit practiced, 1, Vain-boasting and 
self-disparagement, 2, Flattery. 3. Pretensions to a friendship which is 
not felt, 4, Equivocation, 5. Mental reservations, when what is sup- 
pressed is not obvious from the circumstances, or is not necessary to pre- 
vent deception, I\. Tlie question of the justifiableness of lying under 
any circumstances discussed Page 519 



12 CONTENTS. 

Discourse V. — Faithfulness. 

Definition of the term and the thing. Three heads which embrace 
Faithfulness — Promises, Pledges, Vows. I. Definition of Promises. De- 
fective definition criticised. Distinction between apparent and real 
promises. Elements involved in true definition. 1. Any mode of vol- 
untary signification, without limitation to any particular class of signs. 
2. The signification must be voluntary. 3. The signification must have 
a known tendency to excite expectation. 4. The signification must be in 
regard to a matter which is possible and right. II.. The ground of the 
obligation of promises. 1. The law of sincerity requires a correspond- 
ence of the signification to the mental purpose. 2. The same law requires 
a correspondence between words and the reality of things. 3. A promise 
creates a right to the fulfilment of the expectation it excites. No right 
created by promises to do unlawful or impossible things. Two questions 
of casuistry: 1. Are extorted promises binding? 2. Does an unlawful 
condition invalidate a promise? Paley's and Whewell's views criticised. 
Concluding remarks as to the promises of the Gospel. Pi^edges. Defi- 
nition. Honour pawned by the pledge. Guilt and injury involved in 
the violation of pledges. The sacredness of the pledge can never justify 
wrong-doing in carrying it out. God's condescension in the use of 
pledges to man. Cautions in regard to the thoughtless making of 
promises Page 543 



, Discourse VI. — Vows. i 

Difierent estimate of vows by Protestants and Romanists. I. The 
nature of vows. 1. They are of the general nature of promises. 2. 
They are distinguished from other promises by the party to whom they 
ai-e made — God. They thus become — (1.) Acts of worship. (2.) Oaths. 
This determines the nature of their matter and the spirit in which they 
should be made. Cautions against profaneness drawn from the matter of 
vows: 1. If they respect an act specifically religious, it must be appointed 
in God's Word. 2. If they respect an act not specifically religious, it must 
be either the elicit or imperate one of some virtue. 3. The matter should 
be in our power either according to nature or grace. II. The utility of 
vows. The expediency of making them. The whole question dependent 
upon the spirit in which they are made. 1. If they are made in the 
spirit of bribes, they are insults to God and injuries to us. 2. If they are 
regarded as possessing merit, their usefulness is destroyed. 3. Proper 
vows made in the right spirit are helps to piety. (1.) They strengthen 
the general bonds of duty. (2.) Tliey increase the sense of union with 
God. (3.) They contribute to the habit of specific virtues, and so fortify 
the general principle of integrity. Calvin's four ends of vows. Vows 
not to be made common. III. The obligation of vows. Paley's view 
refuted. True ground of their obligation. 1. As promises to God they 



CONTENTS. 1 3 

are binding on the ground of truth and justice. 2. As oaths, on the prin- 
ciple of reverence. Magnitude of the sin of vow-breach. Practical 
reflections suggested by the discussion Page 569 

Discourse VII.— Consistency. 

Primary import of the term. By a natural accommodation of its 
primary import consistency embraces three 'things — stability of opinion, 
harmony of life, and propriety of behaviour. Consistency a virtue only 
when we have begun well. I. Stability of opinion. 1. This species of 
consistency not incompatible with all change. The love of truth the reg- 
ulative principle by which all opinions are to be tested. The cause of 
fickleness of opinion. 2. Consistency not to be confounded with obstinacy. 
Distinction between them. Consistency the mean between bigotry and 
spurious charity. Stability of opinion never the result of direct eflbrt. 
Necessity of discipline of thought as a guard against that fickleness of 
opinion which springs from weakness of understanding. Moral and 
religious culture the antidote to that fickleness which results from dis- 
honest mptives. II. Harmony of life. 1. Consideration of that species 
of inconsistency of life which arises from defect of the understanding — 
fickleness. 2. Consideration of the inconsistency which springs from 
defect of will — weakness. 3. The inconsistency occasioned by defect of 
honesty — hypocrisy. The conduct of men as to religion chargeable with 
inconsistency in all these aspects. III. Propriety of behaviour or deco- 
rum. The obligation to make our actions correspond to our external cir- 
cumstances and incidental relations. To this are necessary sensibility to 
beauty and moral culture. This species of consistency to be maintained 
in our relaxations and amusements. Appeals to the young to cultivate 
consistency » Page 594 




PREFATORY NOTE. 



The fragments which are here brought together seem to be too 

valuable to be omitted from this collection ; and they likewise appear 

suitable to stand as a sort of Introduction to this Second Volume, into 

which are to be gathered all which Dr. Thornwell has left relating to the 

Covenant of Grace. 

15 



Outline of the Covenant of Grace 



TESTIMONY TO SUBLAPSARIANISM. 



I. Outline of the Covenant of Grace. 

IN the original distribution of the topics embraced in 
Theology they were reduced to three heads : 

1 . Those essential principles of moral government which 
are involved in the relations of a rational, responsible crea- 
ture to its Creator and Ruler. These lie at the basis of all 
religion. There can be neither duty, sin, holiness nor wor- 
ship without them. Under this head we consider man aa 
he was created, and only in those aspects which belong to 
his nature as rational and moral, the product of supreme in- 
telligence and righteousness. Here we discuss the question 
of his original endowments, his knowledge, righteousness 
and holiness ; all that is implied in the notion of his being 
created in the image of God ; the moral law ; the nature of 
moi'al government, its responsibilities, promises and threat- 
enings. 

2. The second head includes the dispensation under which 
man was placed after his creation, commonly called the 
Covenant of Works. This dispensation involved the pur- 
pose on the part of God to bring man into closer relations 
with Himself His natural position was that of a servant — 
God designs to make him a son. In his natural estate, his 
will was mutable ; his obedience was contingent ; lie was 

. Vol. II.— 2 17 



18 COVENANT OF GRACE 

liable to fall — God designed to establish him in holiness for 
ever. The means through which this was to be done was 
a limited probation of the whole race in the person of one 
man — in other words, the justification of all through one. 
This purpose introduced several important modifications of 
moral government. The limitation of probation as to time 
introduces the idea of justification ; the limitation as to 
persons introduces the idea of federal representation ; and 
both together necessitate indefectibility of holiness. This 
dispensation had a threatening as well as a promise. 
Hence, to understand it fully, we must know the state 
to which its breach reduces us, that being the legal state 
in which the race now exists. Hence, we were led to a 
full consideration of Sin, its nature, its consequences, its 
origin in us. 

3. The third great department of Theology is that which 
relates to redemption, and that is the topic on which we are 
to enter now. The scheme of redemption, otherwise called 
the Covenant of Grace, is the answer which God gives to the 
question, How shall a sinner be justified and established in 
holiness for ever? as the Covenant of Works was an answer 
to the question. How shall a moral creature be justified and 
confirmed ? They are both evolutions of the same purpose, 
the same grace in God. The difference in the provisions is 
owing to a difference in the condition of the persons affected. 
The principle on which these provisions are granted is pre- 
cisely the same — federal representation. But man's different 
state introduces three peculiarities in its application : (1.) It 
gives occasion for the exercise of sovereignty on the part of 
God in discriminating among the members of the human 
family. All need not be represented. There is a positive 
desert of punishment which may be respected and ought to 
be respected. Some must die that it may be clearly seen 
that all were ruined. (2.) In the next place, man's guilt re- 
quires a new element in righteousness — satisfaction to the 
justice of God. The penalty of the law must be borne, 
and borne as a matter of obedience. (3.) Man's nature 



AND SUBLAPSARIANISM. 19 

now requires a change in its whole inward state. Hence, 
the doctrine of sanctification is introduced. The federqj 
Head must be one who is competent to these exigencies in 
His person, and in the offices which He undertakes to 
discharge. 

According to this analysis the doctrine of Redemption in- 
volves the discussion of the following topics : 

1. The persons embraced in the Divine purpose; that is, 
the doctrine of Election. This may also be placed last, as 
Calvin has done. If we look at the thing in the order of the 
Divine purpose, it is first ; if in the order of execution, it is 
last. One advantage of making it first is to show its regula- 
tive influence upon the atonement. It is not an afterthought 
to save atonement from being a failure. 

2. The nature of a sinner's justification ; what is required 
in it ; and upon what grounds it is possible. 

3. The nature of sanctification, or the whole of that in- 
ternal work by which holiness is produced and perfected in 
the heart. 

4. The federal Headship of Christ, including the condi- 
tions to His becoming such ; the qualifications necessary for 
the office ; the duties He discharges in it ; the work which 
He actually performed ; His birth. His life. His death. His 
resurrection and ascension — that is, Christ in His person, 
His offices, and in both estates of humiliation and ex- 
altation. 

5. The bond of union, the tie betwixt us and Christ, in- 
volving the office of the Holy Spirit in the application of 
redemption, and the specific acts on our parts responsive Ut 
that office ; effectual calling and faith. 

6. The means : the Church, the ministry, the ordinances. 

7. The actual result of all in the different periods of the 
soul's history ; the Christian's life now, his condition here- 
after. 

8. The state of those not embraced in the Covenant of 

Grace. 

This is an outline of the great and glorious topics which 



20 COVENANT OF GRACE 

fall under the scheme of redemption in their logical rela- 
tions and dependence. 

II. Sub- and Supra-lapsaeians. 

1. The distinction between these two partias has been 
represented as very unimportant, as a mere difference in 
their mode of viewing the same things. But the question 
concerning the order of the Divine decrees involves some- 
thing more than a question of logical method. It is really 
a question of the highest moral significance. The order of 
a thing very frequently determines its righteousness and 
justice. Conviction and hanging are parts of the same 
process, but it is something more than a question of arrange- 
ment whether a man shall be hung before he is convicted. 

2. It is admitted that the decrees, as they exist in the 
Divine mind, are not conditioned : this would be to limit 
the absolute freedom of the Divine will. But the things 
which those decrees relate to are conditioned, and these con- 
ditions are regarded in the decrees. The things sustain 
relations to each other of cause and effect, of antecedent 
and consequent, of means and end ; they are subordinate 
or co-ordinate, and all those relations are contemplated and 
embraced in the decree. The determinations of God in 
regard to them are determinations about things so and so 
connected. 

3. There are three general opinions as to the order of 
Divine decrees, founded on the condition in which man, in 
the purpose of election and reprobation, was contemplated 
as being. 

(1.) There are those who maintain that the end being to 
glorify God's grace and justice, the destination to death and 
life was. the first thing in the Divine mind, and creation 
and the fall were only means ordained for the execution 
of this purpose. Man is viewed as neither fallen nor cre- 
ated, but simply as capable of being and as fallible — simply 
aj8 an instrument that may be made and adapted to the 
purpose. This is the Supralapsarian hypothesis. It is so 



AND SUBLAPSARIANISM. 21 

called because in fixing the object of election it ascends 
beyond creation and the fall. 

(2.) Others maintain that election and reprobation are 
conditioned upon creation and the fall — that is, that the 
purpose of salvation and grace contemplates man as lost 
and ruined, and proposes to deliver him out of this state. 
This is the Sublapsarian hypothesis, so called because in 
fixing the object of predestination it presupposes creation 
and the fall. 

(3.) Others think that the decree contemplates man not 
only as created and fallen, but as redeemed by Christ, and 
as actually believing in Him and persevering in grace. 

This scheme we shall discount for the present, and con- 
sider only the two first. 

4. The state of the question betwixt the Supra- and Sub- 
lapsarians is compendiously expressed by Turrettin. It is 
not whether creation and the fall enter into the Divine 
decree — that is confessed on all hands ; but, whether they 
stand related to salvation and damnation as means to an 
end — whether in the order of thought God first conceived 
the purpose of life or death, and then the purpose of giving 
being and fallibility. 

Again, it is not the question whether in predestination 
sin is taken into the account, for even Supralapsarians admit 
that sin must precede condemnation ; but the question is, 
whether sin is in the Divine thought antecedent to condem- 
nation, the real ground of it, or only a providential means of 
executing the decree of reprobation formed irrespective of it. 

The question, further, is not whether sin is the impulsive 
cause of predestination. All parties are agreed that the dis- 
tinction in the final states of men must be referred to the 
sovereign pleasure of God ; but the question is, whether sin 
must not be presupposed as a quality in the objects of pre- 
destination ; whether it is not a state or condition in them, 
without which predestination could not exist ; whether sin 
must not be presupposed in order that a being may be ca- 
pable either of election or reprobation. 



22 COVENANT OF GRACE 

That the Sublapsarians are right in their answers to these 
questions is apparent from several considerations : 

(1 .) The general impression made by the other scheme is ex- 
tremely revolting to our moral nature and to our conceptions 
of the goodness and mercy of God. It represents the universe 
as a vast clock of complicated machinery, wound up and set to 
going for no other purpose but to strike throughout Eternity 
the dismal sounds — Damnation and Glory ! To these ends 
the hands point upon the dial-plate of creation and Provi- 
dence, and for these ends alone God has stepped forth from 
the depths of His own immensity to create, to order and to 
people worlds. 

(2.) The Supralapsarians proceed upon a hypothesis alto- 
gether groundless : What is last in execution is first in inten- 
tion. This is true only of things that stand related directly 
as means and end. The man who constructs a particular 
kind of plough has first in view the effect to be produced on 
the soil. But in a co-ordinate series it does not hold. All 
men were not made for the last man. Now, the works of 
God are manifold — each has its independent sphere ; and 
they are all connected by their common relation to the 
Divine glory. Creation is one work, Redemption another. 

(3.) That the creation and fall are not means, but ante- 
cedent conditions, is plain from the nature of the case. Sin 
is not in order to damnation, but damnation in order to sin. 

(4.) The decree of Election and Reprobation is unmeaning 
without the presupposition of sin. It is an act without an 
object. 

5. The true order of the Decrees is — (1.) Creation; (2.) 
The Fall ; (3.) Election ; (4.) Redemption ; (5.) Vocation. 

The New School order is— (1.) Creation; (2.) Fall; (3.) 
Redemption ; (4.) Election ; (5.) Vocation. 

III. Testimonies to Sublapsaeianism. 

1. The Helvetic Confession, Chapter X. Here the ob- 
jects of election are said to be, "Sanctos; quos vult salvos 
facere in ChristoJ' 



AND SUBLAPSARIANISM. 23 

2. The Gallic Confession, Section XII. The lantniao-e is 
very explicit: Credimus ex hac corruptione et damnatione 
universalis in qua omnes homines natura simt submersi, Deum 
alios quidem eripere, quos videlicet a:terno et immutabili suo 
consilio sola sua honitate et misericordia, nullo que operum 
ipsorum respectu, in Jesu Christo elegit; alios vero in ea cor- 
ruptione et damnatione relinquere, in quihus nimirum juste suo 
tempore damnandis justitiam suam demonstret, sicut in aliis 
divitias misericordice suce declarat. 

3. The Anglican Confession, Article XVII. They are 
chosen in Christ and to be delivered from the curse of the 
Fall. 

4. The Scotch Confession, Section 8. The election is in 
Christ, and to grace and fraternity with Christ. 

5. The Confession of Dort, Article XVI. 

6. The Synod of Dort, Canons VI. to XL 

IV. Predestination as held by Sublapsarians. 

Predestination, though sometimes used in a wide sense as 
synonymous with decrees in general, is, for the most part, 
restricted to the special decree concerning the final destiny 
of men and angels. In this aspect it is subdivided accord- 
ing to the nature of the destiny into Election and Repro- 
bation. Election secures the everlasting happiness, and 
Reprobation the everlasting misery of its objects. Leaving 
angels out of view, we may resume the Scripture doctrine 
of Predestination in relation to man under the following 
heads : 

1. Man is viewed in the decree as a fallen being. It is a 
purpose which contemplates him under the character and in 
the condition of a lost sinner. He could not be capable of 
election to life nor of reprobation to death unless he Avere in 
a state Avhich justly exposes him to the Divine displeasure 
and to death. That cannot be found which is not lost, and 
that cannot be saved which is in no danger. An election 
to salvation or to deliverance from guilt and misery as 
necessarily presupposes guilt and miseiy in its objects as 



24 COVENANT OF GRACE 

healing implies a disease or cooling implies heat. The 
opposite theory, which makes the decree respect man 
not as fiillen nor even as existing, but only as capable of 
both, makes the decree terminate upon an object which in 
relation to it is a nonentity. It makes the decree involve a 
palpable contradiction — a purpose to save what in the light 
of the decree is not lost, and is therefore not saveable. 

Besides, that the Supralapsarians have no object corre- 
sponding to the nature of the decree, their system is liable 
to other and insurmountable objections : 

(1.) It correlates things as means and end which actu- 
ally sustain no such relations. Creation and the permis- 
sion of the fall are made simply means for the execution 
of the purpose of election and reprobation. They have 
taken place because of that purpose. The truth is, these 
are co-ordinate and not subordinate works of God, and 
have their distinct and separate place in the Divine plan 
as manifestations of the Divine glory. All God's works 
are correlated to each as means for the expression of Him- 
self. They all contain some letters and syllables of His 
great Name, and it is because of this relation to His glory 
that they all enter into the Divine decree. 

(2.) The Supralapsarians, by their arbitrary reduction 
of creation and the fall to the category of means, really 
make sin the consequence of damnation and not its ground. 
Man is not condemned because he sins, but sins that he 
may be condemned. 

(3.) Providence is the explicit manifestation of God's 
plan and counsels. Now in Providence we recognize the 
fact of creation, therefore we say that God decreed to create ; 
the fact of the fall, therefore that God decreed to permit the 
fall ; the fact of redemption, therefore that God decreed to 
redeem. In Providence these are connected not as means 
and end, but as successive developments, or rather as fur- 
nishing the occasions and conditions of successive develop- 
ments of the Divine perfections. Creation glorified God in 
its sphere; the moral administration under which the fall 



AND SUBLAPSARTANISM. 25 

occurred glorified Him in still another aspect of His being ; 
and the fall furnished the occasion upon Avhich a still more 
illustrious exhibition might be made. Here is a plan, a 
progressive plan, a plan in which .each part prepares the 
way for something beyond, but in which each part has its 
own special and independent significancy. 

(4.) The only support of this theory is a logical crotchet 
which will not bear examination. What is last in the exe- 
cution is first in the intention. The maxim applies only to 
things connected as means and ends, but is not applicable 
to a co-ordinate series, or to a series in which the preceding 
is only a condition, but not the cause — a eine qua non, but 
not the ground — of the next. 

(5.) The hypothesis is contrary to the Scriptures. They 
uniformly represent calling as the expression of election — 
the first articulate proof of it. But calling is from a state 
of sin and misery. Therefore, election must refer to the 
same condition. Historically, too, the doctrine has been 
developed in the Church from the experience of grace, and 
so connects itself necessarily with the transition from dark- 
ness to light. In so many words, we are said to be chosen 
out of the world. 

(6.) The most matured Confessions of Faith represent 
election as presupposing sin and misery. The Galilean, 
the English, the Belgic, the Synod of Dort, may all be 
quoted. 

This, then, is the first point. Man is contemplated in 
the decree of predestination as a fallen being. 

2. The decree respecting man thus conditioned is abso- 
lutely sovereign. It is grounded exclusively in the good 
pleasure of God's will. It is not arbitrary and without 
reasons, but the reasons are all drawn from God Himself, 
and not from the creature. He chooses one and passes by 
another, not because one is better or worse than another, 
but because such is His sovereign will. Here we encounter 
the Arminians, who make election depend upon faith, and 
reprobation upon impenitence among men — that is, men 



26 COVENANT OF GRACE 

are chosen to life or ordained to death under the formal con- 
sideration of being believers or unbelievers. The ground 
of distinction is in the creature and not the sovereign will 
of God. The Arminiau hypothesis is refuted by all those 
Scriptures which make faith, repentance and holiness the 
gifts of God and the results or fruits of election. 

3. The election is to everlasting life and all the means 
of attaining it. It includes grace and glory. It is not an 
election to external privileges, but to the heavenly inherit- 
ance. If grace and glory are the end to which election 
looks, then election is prior in the order of thought to the 
scheme of redemption, and is the moving cause of its in- 
stitution. Here we encounter a section of the orthodox, 
who undertook to conciliate the Arminians by postulating 
a general purpose of mercy to the whole race, in conse- 
quence of which Christ was given as the Saviour of the 
world and made a redemption intended for all under the 
condition of a true faith. According to this scheme, elec- 
tion is posterior to the introduction of the Gospel, and in- 
stead of contemplating man simply as fallen, contemplates 
him as perverse under the general call. It comes in, not as 
the impulsive cause of redemption, but as the means of 
saving redemption from being a failure. This scheme is 
the one to which all the advocates of general and indefinite 
atonement are logically driven. But it is contradicted by 
the whole tenor of Scripture. The elect are said to be 
given to Christ to he redeemed, not given as redeemed. 
Christ is distinctly affirmed to be the fruit of election. He 
is the head of the election of grace. Then again the whole 
doctrine of atonement must be given up in any just and 
proper sense of the term. 

4. Election is eternal. This is admitted by all but So- 
cinians. Others dispute about its nature and grounds, but 
admit that whatever it is, it is an eternal purpose. 

5. The order of the Divine decrees according to these 
views is — (1.) Creation; (2.) Permission of the Fall; (3.) 
Predestination ; (4.) Redemption ; (5.) Vocation. 



AND SUBLAPSARIANISM. 27 

According to the Supralapsarians — (1.) Predestination; 
(2.) Creation; (3.) Fall; (4.) Redemption; (5.) Voca- 
tion. 

According to general atonement Calvinists — (1.) Crea- 
tion ; (2.) Fall ; (3.) Redemption ; (4.) Predestination ; (5.) 
Vocation. 

Under redemption here must be included the general 
dispensation of mercy by the proposition of salvation- 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



The following discussion appeared first in the " Southern Presbyterian 

Review" for October, 1859. It should come in here, notwithstanding 

that a considerable portion of it would be suitable for the Fourth Vo^ 

ume of this collection. 

29 



THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 



xs 



INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH: 

BEING A REVIEW OF BRECKINRIDGE'S SUBJECTIVE 
THEOLOGY. 



THAT a second volume, so weighty in matter and so 
bulky in form, should have been written and prepared 
for the press within the time that has elapsed since the 
publication of the first, is a testimony to the diligence and 
industry of the author which vindicates him from all sus- 
picion of making his professorship a sinecure. Dr. Breck- 
inridge measures life by labour and not by years. A man 
of action, he finds no place for rest, he seeks no repose in this 
sublunary scene, where the Master's commission is only to 
work. The truth is, in every state the unimpeded exercise 
of energy is bliss ; it is not action, but toil, not exertion, 
but drudgery, which constitutes the bitterness of labour. 
Soundness of mind is as inconsistent with torpor as sound- 
ness of body with lethargy. INIotion is the sign of life, 
and delight in motion an unfailing symptom of health. It 
is an omen of good that our professors in all our semina- 
ries seem to be working men. Princeton, year after year, 
is sending forth volumes of sacred criticism which are not 
surpassed in genius, scholarship and piety by the produc- 
tions of any other school in Europe or America. She has 
taken her place as an authority abroad. Danville, in her 
infancy, has vindicated her claim to the title of a first-class 
institution by works which belong to the highest regions of 

3] 



32 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

thought. Allegheny is not idle ; every Sunday-school and 
almost every Presbyterian family bear witness to the quiet 
and unostentatious labours which are prosecuted within her 
walls. Our friends at Union are notoriously indefatigable, 
and we have no doubt that the North-west will not be long 
in putting her light on a candlestick from which it may be 
radiated through the whole Church. It is perhaps enough 
for our humble selves to read what our brethren write ; and 
if any man thinks that it is no labour to peruse their teem- 
ing works and occasionally sit in judgment upon them, we 
would say to him, as a certain minister said to his congrega- 
tion when upon entering his pulpit he found his head prove 
truant to his tongue, " If any man thinks it easy to preach, 
let him come up here and try it." In reading Dr. Breckin- 
ridge's massive volumes we are reminded of an anecdote 
of himself when he was a pastor in Baltimore. On a cer- 
tain Sunday his pulpit had been filled three times by min- 
isters returning from the General Assembly, and at the 
close of the day he was asked in our presence by a member 
of his congregation how he felt. "Oh, very tired — very 
much exhausted !" " Tired ! How on earth can that be 
when you have been resting the whole day ?" " Resting ! 
resting !" said the doctor ; " do you call it rest to listen to 
such preaching, and then to be compelled to understand it ? 
Why, sir, I never worked so hard in my life." If, upon 
going through the six hundred and ninety-seven pages 
which make up the volume before us, any one should be 
asked whether he had an easy time of it, he might answer — 
and if he were a spiritual man he certainly would answer — 
that he had had a most delightful time of it, most profitable 
and refreshing, but he would be far from saying that there 
had been no tax upon his intellectual energies. It is a work 
which has cost labour, and it exacts labour in order to master 
it. But the labour is not unrequited. Diligence here, as 
in the culture of the earth, maketh rich. Dr. Breckin- 
ridge — to use the beautiful simile of Milton — conducts us 
to a hillside, laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else so 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 33 

smooth, SO green, so full of goodly prospects and melodious 
sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not 
more charming. 

The book bears the image of its author ; it is a faitliful 
transcript of his mind. The tendency to seize the abstract 
in the concrete, to detect the law in the fact ; intensity of 
energy manifested in a fervour of expression amounting not 
unfrequently to positive exaggeration ; bursts of passion, 
often swelling into the highest eloquence, or breaking forth 
into terrible invective, or subsiding into the tenderest tones 
of pathos ; sudden alternations from the most opposite ex- 
tremes, from the gay to the grave, from the lion to the lamb, 
are as conspicuous in the book as in the man ; and if his 
name had not been upon the title-page, albeit not gifted with 
any extraordinary power of guessing, we should have been 
at no loss in divining the author. 

The general design of the book is to trace the history and 
progress of religion, whether personally considered as mani- 
fested in the individual or collectively considered as mani- 
fested in the Church. The first volume discussed Theology 
as a doctrine ; the second treats it as a life. In the first 
volume, the science was purely speculative ; in the second, 
it is wholly practical. In the first, the scheme of redemp- 
tion and the great truths which it presupposes and involves 
were merely the object-matter of thought; in the second, 
they are living springs of energy, subjective laws and powers 
in the soul of man. The first volume aims simply to de- 
scribe the theologian ; the second portrays the Christian be- 
liever. It may, therefore, be regarded as a treatise of ex- 
perimental religion ; and its special province is to exhibit 
the work of the Holy Ghost in applying redemption to the 
hearts of men. The book falls into two general divisions — 
religion as produced and manifested in the individual, 
religion as produced and manifested in the Church; for 
Dr. Breckinridge considers the Church as subsequent in 
the order of thought to the individual — the outward 
organic expression of an inward spiritual life. With 
Vol. II.— 3 



34 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

liini the Church as naturally springs from the common 
relation of individual believers to Christ, as . the family 
from the relation of children to the same parent. The 
following is his own summary of the general contents of 
the volume : 

" The order of the general demonstration may be made 
intelligible by a brief statement. In the First Book I at- 
tempt to trace and to prove the manner in which the know- 
ledge of God unto salvation passes over from being merely 
objective and becomes subjective. In the Second Book I 
endeavour to disclose and to demonstrate the whole work of 
God in man unto his personal salvation. In the Third Book 
the personal effects and results of this Divine, subjective 
work are sought to be explicated. This seems to me to ex- 
haust the subject in its subjective personal aspect. But these 
individual Christians, by means of their union with Christ 
and their consequent communion with each other, are organ- 
ized by God into a visible kingdom, which has a direct and 
precise relation to the subjective consideration of the know- 
ledge of God. From this point, therefore, the social and 
organic aspect of the subject arises, and the Fourth Book is 
occupied with what is designed to be a demonstration of the 
Church of the living God. But just as the work of grace in 
individual men is necessarily followed by the Christian offices, 
and so the subject of the Third Book necessarily followed the 
subject of the Second, in like manner the consideration of 
the gifts of God to His Church, and of all the eifects of these 
gifts, follows the organization and progress of the visible 
Church in a peculiar manner. And thus the subject of the 
Fourth Book leads directly to the subject of the Fifth, in 
which the life, action and organism of the Church are dis- 
cussed with reference to the special gifts bestowed on it by 
God. And here the organic aspect of the knowledge of God 
unto salvation, subjectively considered, seems to terminate. 
What remains is the general conclusion of the whole subject, 
in a very brief attempt to estimate the progress and result 
of these Divine realities, and to disclose the revealed con- 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 35 

summation of God's works of creation, providence and 
grace." 

Dr. Breckinridge begins with a graphic description of the 
actual posture of the universe under the condemnation of sin 
as modified by the introduction of grace. He shows that the 
scriptural accounts of the fell and of redemption are tl,c only 
facts which are competent to ex2:)lain the mysteries of our 
present condition. The world is not what it would have 
been, and what it must have been, had there been no purpose 
of deliverance ; it is not what it would have been, and what 
it must have been, had the deliverance been as universal as 
the curse. The election of grace modifies everything, so as 
to produce and to exjjlain the precise dispensation of mingled 
good and evil which we daily experience. Our race is in 
ruins, but not hopelessly lost. God has a seed to be collected 
from it, and the Avhole career of Providence is but the evo- 
lution of the plan by which He displays His grace in the 
vessels of mercy, and gloriously vindicates His justice in the 
vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. We are neither in 
the incipient state of moral beings, probationers for life under 
law, nor in the final state of punishment or reward. We 
have been tried and have failed, but are not yet wholly 
abandoned to despair. Intermediate between the fall and 
its final issue is a dispensation of mercy, which looks to the 
full execution of the sentence or its complete remission, ac- 
cordingly as the oifered Saviour is received or rejected. In 
the mean time, the blessing and the curse are marvellously 
intermingled. Good and evil are in constant and terrible 
conflict, and the miseries of our lot are made the instruments 
of a wholesome discipline or the proofs of incorrigible im- 
penitence. 

Dr. Breckinridge next proceeds to unfold the nature and 
general provisions of that covenant through which this modi- 
fying grace has found its way into our world. The discus- 
sion of this topic, without being scholastic or technical, is 
logically complete. It is more — it is rich and scriptural ; 
and in the sublime march of the principles which are succes- 



36 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

sively evolved, the petty cavils of petty minds against the 
supremacy and sovereignty of God are felt to be contempt- 
ible. One of the most delightful features of this book is the 
conviction which everywhere pervades it that God's cha- 
racter needs no apology at the bar of sinners. Dr. Breckin- 
ridge never shrinks from the oflPensive truths of the Gospel. 
He brings them out plainly, fully, boldly and confidently. 
He opens his mouth wide and utters all that God has re- 
vealed. Election, particular redemption, efficacious grace — 
he scouts tlie notion of the possibility of salvation without 
recognizing these elements. Grace with him is real grace, 
and not an euphemistic name for a result actually dependent 
upon the will of the creature. Christ is a real Saviour, and 
not an instrument by which the sinner is enabled to gratify 
his pride. The Holy Ghost is a real sanctifier, and not an 
influence by which the energies of men are stimulated, and 
their better impulses roused into action. The Persons of the 
glorious Trinity have entered into a real covenant to redeem 
a Church from the lost multitude of the race, and are not the 
authors of paltry expedients or abortive efforts to coax men 
into what they find it impossible directly to effect. The prob- 
lem of sin is a problem with which, according to Dr. Breck- 
inridge, God is competent to deal. It is not something un- 
expected — not something which He could not have prevented, 
and which fills Him with regret as He looks upon the uni- 
verse perverted from its end. It did not take Him by sur- 
prise. In the depths of eternity the fall of angels and of 
men was distinctly contemplated, and that eternal covenant 
established which, in its final evolution, was to bring infinite 
glory to the wisdom, goodness and power of God, from the 
whole manner in which He has dealt with, and manifested 
the infinite resources of His beino; in dealincj with, this vast 
question. Dr. Breckinridge next shows that the provisions 
of the covenant are not arbitrary or capricious, but exactly 
adapted to the moral and intellectual nature of man. The 
plau of salvation is precisely such a plan as the exigencies 
of sinners demanded. It fits their case as the form of the 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHUUCH. 37 

key corresponds to the wards of the lock. Man is dealt with 
as a rational and accountable being, and every element of 
the constitution which God gave him is minutely respected 
in the method by which God saves him. And yet the plan, 
while it disturbs not the freedom of man, is so ordered that 
salvation is no contingency. The scheme is incapable of 
failure. So far from being a wonder that the elect are saved, 
the marvel would be how any of them could be lost. Here 
is the mystery of infinite wisdom and of infinite grace. How 
absurd, in the light of such provisions — provisions revealed 
in the Scriptures and realized in the hearts of thousands and 
tens of thousands of God's children — to represent sin as 
something too strong for the Almighty ! 

The next topics brought before us are the conditions witli 
respect to the sinner upon which the promises of the covenant 
are suspended — that is, what God requires of us in order that 
we may be saved. Here Dr. Breckinridge concurs with that 
class of the Reformed divines who resolved them into tioo — 
repentance and faith. The double relation of these graces, 
as duties in themselves and as the means of other benefits, 
is carefully noted. They do not save as duties — that would 
be legalism — but as graces involving a peculiar relation to 
Christ and to God, Here we think the reduction unscrip- 
tural and the argument illusive. The term condition, if 
taken in the general sense of a preliminary requisite, is 
applicable to every grace which precedes the final result, as 
well as to faith and repentance. It is applicable to medita- 
tion, to prayer, to the reading of the Scriptures, to the dili- 
gent use of all the ordinances of the Gospel, as well as to 
every internal habit wTOUght by the Spirit preparatory to 
the great reward. This is only saying that there Ls an order 
in the communication of God's blessings by v'rtue of which 
one grace is prior to another. In the narrow sense of that 
which unites us to Christ and makes us actual ])artakers of 
redemption, the term condition is, in our judgment, applicable 
only to faith. It is clear that the ground of all personal 
interest in the blessings of the covenant is union with Christ. 



38 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

This no one assei'ts more strongly than Dr. Breckinridge. 
Union with Christ secures justification, adoption, sanctifica- 
tion and the whole salvation of the Gospel. The condition, 
and the sole condition, of union with Christ is faith. The 
man who believes is saved. Now, if we understand Dr. 
Breckinridge, he seems to maintain that repentance sustains 
a relation to God analogous to that which faith sustains to 
the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance he represents as the 
only means of our deliverance from sin, either outward or 
inward, either original or actual. " Nothing," he says, " can 
be more certain than that every benefit we derive from 
Christ is made to depend in some way on our faith in Him, 
while all pardon of sin is directly connected with repentance, 
and all increase in holiness is beyond our power, except as 
we see and hate sin on one side, and see and strive after 
holiness on the other." It is true that there is no pardon to 
tlie impenitent ; but there is no pardon, not because repent- 
ance is a means of pardon, but because there is no union 
with Christ and consequently no possibility of being 
sprinkled with His blood. It is precisely because faith is 
the exercise of a renewed soul that it is incompetent to those 
who cherish the love of sin ; true faith includes in it the 
renunciation of the flesh as well as the reception of the Saviour. 
The very purpose for which it receives Christ is, that it may 
be freed as well from the dominion as from the guilt of sin. 
Salvation, the blessing to be obtained, means nothing, unless 
it includes holiness. To state the thing in another form : 
What is the formal ground of pardon ? It is certainly the 
blood of Christ which cancels our guilt. How is that blood 
applied to us? Just as certainly by the Holy Spirit. How 
does the Spirit apply it? By uniting us to Christ. How 
does He unite us to Christ ? By that process of grace which 
terminates in the production of saving fiiith. United to 
Christ, we receive two classes of benefits — inward and out- 
ward ; the inward all included under the generic name of 
repentance, and appertaining to the entire destruction of sin 
and the complete restoration of the image of God ; the out- 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 89 

ward having reference to all those benefits which affect our 
relations to God as a Ruler and Judge. Both classes of 
blessings are equally the promise of the covenant. Both are 
treasured up in "the Lord Jesus Christ. We obtain both by- 
being in Him, and as we are in Him only by faith, faith 
must be the exclusive condition of the covenant. There can 
be no doubt that w^e are justified exclusively by faith, but 
justification includes pardon; therefore we are pardoned 
only through faith. It is clear, too, that the Spirit is 
received only by faith; and yet the Spirit is the Sanctifier, the 
Author of all penitence and of all real holiness. We think, 
therefore, that repentance, instead of being represented as a 
condition of the covenant, should be represented, as Calvin 
has done, as a compendious expression for one great class of 
its blessings, while justification and adoption should be re- 
ferred to another, both classes sustaining the same relation 
to faith. The blood and the water flowed together from the 
Saviour's side. To be in Him is to have them both ; and 
if we are in Him, as Dr. Breckinridge frequently admits, only 
by faith, then faith is the sole condition of the covenant. 
This seems to us to be the teaching of the Westminster Con- 
fession. 

" The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, 
in that He freely provides and ofFereth to sinners a Mediator, 
and life and salvation by Him ; and requiring faith as the 
condition to interest them in Him, promiseth and givcth His 
Holy Spirit to all His elect, to work in them that faith with 
all other savino; o-races, and to enable them unto all holv 
obedience as the evidence of the truth of their faith and 
thankfulness to God, and as the way which He hath ap- 
pointed them to salvation." ^ 

We have but little sympathy with the fears of those theo- 
logians who have insisted upon repentance as a condition of 
the covenant in order to screen the Gospel from the imputa- 
tion of licentiousness. The faith which justifies is no dead 
faith, but a faith which works by love. It admires the 
1 Larg. Cat., Q. 32. 



40 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

beauty of holiness as well as the glory of the Saviour, and 
contains in it the very seeds of repentance. It never 
embraces Christ without renouncing sin, and the more lovely 
and adorable He appears, the more hateful and odious sin 
becomes. The truth is, Christ cannot be divided, and to 
receive Him at all is to receive Him in the fullness and 
integrity of His salvation. Faith, moreover, is the only grace 
which exactly responds to the nature of the Gosj)el as a com- 
plement of promises ; therefore faith is the only grace which 
is suited to be the condition of the covenant. Our design, 
however, is not to argue the question, but to intimate the 
general grounds of our dissent from the author's mode of 
representation. 

After the conditions, he next takes up the successive dis- 
pensations of the covenant, and in this chapter a rich mass 
of truth is condensed in a very brief compass. He shows 
conclusively that there never has been but one Gospel, and 
that though there have been diversities of administrations, 
and each illustrative of the manifold wisdom of God, there 
never has been but one Saviour. The first great promise 
has spanned the arch of time. 

These five chapters, briefly recapitulated, constituting the 
First Book, have all been preliminary to the main design of 
the treatise — the exhibition of the work of grace upon the 
human soul. They have briefly illustrated our precise con- 
dition as under the curse of one covenant and the promise 
of the other ; they have shown the origin, nature and exact 
provisions of that promise which compendiously includes all 
Divine grace ; they have traced its nice and beautiful adap- 
tations to our nature as men and our case as sinners, and 
marked the steps by which, to ages and generations past as 
well as in these latter days, God has revealed it as the ground 
of all human hope. We are brought at last to the Gospel as 
it comes to us in the new economy ; and as that is the 
instrument thi-ough which all salvation is applied, we are now 
prepared to follow the wondrous path of the Spirit, as He 
calls the sinner from darkness to liarht, and translates him 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 41 

from Adam to Christ, and from the kingdom of Satan into 
the kingdom of God's dear Son. This ^vork of grace upon 
'the soul is contemphited in two distinct but inseparable 
aspects : First, with reference to the agency of the Holy Ghost, 
who accomplishes it ; secondly, with reference to the agencv 
of the new creature which it evokes ; that is, we are first led 
to consider the graces, and then the offices or duties, of tlie 
Christian — his life as a habit divinely implanted, and as an 
energy actively manifested. To the first topic the Second 
Book is devoted; to the second, the Third. Union with 
Christ, effectual calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, 
sanctification and eternal blessedness, together with all the 
benefits incidentally connected now or hereafter with these 
august gifts, are the subjects which, under the first head, 
successively pass before us; while faith, repentance, new 
obedience, good works, the spiritual warfare — in fine, all the 
elements of holiness, together with the rule by which fiiith 
and duty are to be regulated — constitute the topics which 
exhaust the consideration of the second head. The reader will 
perceive at once that here is a rich table of contents ; that if 
these subjects are adequately treated in the experimental 
relations in which they are contemplated, we have a work upon 
personal religion of the deepest interest and importance. 
We are happy to say that Dr. Breckinridge has fulfilled his 
task nobly and well. No child of God can lay down the 
book without being grateful to the author for the comfort 
and edification he has received ; and no minister can take it 
up without feeling, as he passes through its closely-concate- 
nated chapters, that Theology, as here exhibited, is not a 
dead abstraction, but a living reality, and that he is better 
prepared, by the pregnant discussions of these pages, to deal 
with the hearts and consciences of his people. Dr. Breckin- 
ridge has taken the two factors, the truth in the hands of 
the Spirit and the soul of man, and has shown the wonderful 
results produced by their joint action. Other qualifications 
besides learning were required to write such a book. The 
author must have felt the power which he describes, and l^een 



42 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

conscious of the life he delineates. He must likewise have 
been familiar with the exercises of others. It is evidently 
Christian experience, portrayed by a pastor who has con- 
versed with many a sinner and comforted many a saint. 
We need not say that the work is thoroughly evangelical, 
exaggerating nothing to increase the offence of the cross, and 
extenuating nothing to conciliate the approbation of the carnal 
heart. The supernatural character of religion, the utter 
impotence of man, the resistless efficacy of grace, the all-per- 
vading nature of the change implied in the new birth, — all 
these and kindred points are brought out with a freshness, 
an unction and a truth to life that make the book as de- 
lightful to the Christian as the last new novel to a girl in 
her teens. It is one instance of a work in these days of 
sophistical speculation in which there are no compromises 
with a shallow philosophy. Here are no evasive efforts to 
reconcile the justice of God's authority with the lielj)lessness 
of man by distinctions which every converted heart instantly 
repels, and the only effect of which is to seduce the impeni- 
tent into the belief of a lie ; no futile attempts, on the one 
hand, to strip God of His sovereignty under the pretext of 
saving His character, or to refine away, on the other, the 
depravity of man under the pretence of saving his responsi- 
bility. Dr. Breckinridge states the truth, and the whole 
truth, as God has revealed it, perfectly confident that the 
Divine glory has nothing to lose, and human guilt nothing 
to gain, from honest and faithful dealing. 

Having in the Second and Third Books despatched the 
subject of personal religion in its graces and its duties, he next 
develops the doctrine of the Church as the necessary result 
of the communion of believers with each other in conse- 
quence of their union with Christ, Children of the same 
Father, they must constitute one family. The Church is 
considered in a twofold aspect, corresponding to the twofold 
aspect in which the individual believer was surveyed — first, 
in relation to its idea or essence, its fundamental principles, 
its aims and ends, and then in relation to the gifts of God 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 43 

to it in the ministry, the AVord and the ordinances. The 
Fourth Book is devoted to the first, tlie Fii\h to the second 
aspect of this subject. In the matter of churcli-])()lity, the 
exposition contained in this volume is the clearest and most 
scriptural of any with which we are acquainted. It is a 
disreputable truth that there are many Presbyterijuis, and 
Presbyterian ministers, who are very imperfectly accjuainted 
with the characteristic principles of their own system. The 
ruling elder, even in decisions of the General Assembly, 
occupies a very anomalous position ; and it is still disputed 
whether he is the proxy of the congregation, deriving all 
his rights and authority from a delegation of power on the 
part of the people, or whether he is an officer divinely ap- 
pointed, deriving his authority from Christ the Loi'd. It is 
still disputed whether he belongs to the same order with the 
minister, or whether the minister alone is the presbyter of 
Scripture, and the ruling elder a subordinate assistant. It 
is still disputed ^^'hether he sits in presbytery as the deputy 
of the brotherhood, or whether he sits there by Divine right 
as a constituent element of the body ; whether as a member 
of presbytery he can participate in all presbyterial acts, or 
is debarred from some by the low nature of his office. That 
all government is by councils ; that these councils are rep- 
resentative and deliberative ; that, jure Divino, they are all 
presbyteries, and as presbyteries comj)osed exclusively of 
presbyters ; that presbyters, though one in order and the 
right to rule, are subdivided into two classes ; that all pres- 
byteries, whether parochial, cla.ssical or synodical, are radi- 
cally the same ; that the Church in its germ and in its full- 
est development presents the same elements ; that her whole 
polity is that of a free commonwealth ; — these j)oints are ably, 
scripturally, unanswerably established in the work before us. 
The only topic which Dr. Breckinridge has failed to elabo- 
rate, is one which all the Reformed theologians have evaded — 
the precise nature of the visible Church. Is it or is it not 
specifically a different thing from the communion of saints? 
Dr. Breckinridge treats it as the body of believers made 



44 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

apparent. He restricts the Church in its proper sense to 
the congregation of the faithfuL None can be truly mem- 
bers of it but those who are members of Christ. He accord- 
ingly maintains with Calvin, with Luther, with Melancthon 
that hypocrites and unbelievers, though in it, are not of it. 
They are insolent intruders whom it is the office of disci- 
pline to expel. We do not say that this representation is 
not correct ; but supposing it to be correct, we should like to 
have had it explained upon what principle the official acts 
of an unconverted minister become valid. Judas was a 
devil and the son of perdition, but was he not also an apos- 
tle, and did he not receive his commission directly from the 
Lord ? Was he a mere intruder into an office to which he 
was divinely called ? Our Book evidently makes the distinc- 
tion between the visible Church and the invisible Church to 
be that in the one the profession, in the other the possession, 
of faith is the indispensable condition of membership. The 
two do not, therefore, seem to correspond. The one is not 
an imperfect exhibition of the other, but a diffijrent though 
a related institute. Where the sjjecific difference is not the 
same there can be no identity of species. Then, again, the 
constitution of the visible Church, through families, many 
of whose members never become saints, would seem to inti- 
mate that the visible Church is something more than the 
communion of saints made apparent. The whole subject is 
encompassed with difficulties, and we should have been glad 
if Dr. Breckinridge had devoted to it a larger share of his 
attention. It is undergoing a warm and vigorous discussion 
in Germany, and we hope the result will be the clearing up 
of difficulties which still embarrass many earnest minds. 

We cannot express too highly our approbation of those 
parts of" the work in which Dr. Breckinridge has discussed 
the relations of the Church to the State, the world and the 
secular institutions of society. We are confident that the 
truths which he has had the grace to enunciate upon these 
topics are the only truths which can secure to the Church 
in this country the position of influence which she ought 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 45 

to occupy. If she undertakes to meddle with the tilings 
of Csesar, she must expect to be crushed by the sword of 
Csesar. If she condescends to put herself upon a level Avith 
the countless institutes which philanthropy or folly has con- 
trived for the earthly good of the race, she must expect to 
share the fiite of human devices and expedients. She is of 
God, and if she forgets that it is her Divine prerogative to 
speak in the name and by the authority of God — if she 
relinquishes the dialect of Canaan, and stoops to babble in 
the dialects of earth — she must expect to be treated as a bab- 
bler. Her strength lies in comprehending her spiritual 
vocation. She is different from all other societies among 
men. Though as a society she has ethical and political rela- 
tions in common with the permanent .organizations of tlie 
Family and the State, yet in her essence, her laws, and her 
ends she is diverse from every other institute. The ties 
which bind men together in other societies are only me- 
diately from God and immediately from man ; she is imme- 
diately from God and mediately from man. The laws of 
other societies are the dictates of reason or the instincts of 
prudence; her laws are express revelations from heaven. 
Other societies exist for the good of man as a moral, social, 
political being ; she exists for the glory of God in the sal- 
vation of sinners. Her ends are supernatural and Divine. 
She knows man and God only in the awful and profound re- 
lations implied in the terms guilt, sin, pardon, penitence and 
eternal life. Existing in Christ, by Christ and for Christ, 
she has no other law but His will. She can only speak the 
words which He puts in her mouth. Founded u])on Divine 
revelation and not in human nature, she has a Divine faith 
but no human opinion, and the only argument by which 
she authenticates either her doctrines or her precepts is. 
Thus saith the Lord. Her province is not to reason, but to 
testify. These principles, clear in themselves and as vital 
as they are clear. Dr. Breckinridge has unfoldc^d with sig- 
nal success; at the same time he has not ovei-lookcd the 
aspect of opposition in which her testimony must often 



43 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

place her to the institutions and customs of the world. 
Whenever earthly societies of any sort involve corrupt doc- 
trines, it is her duty, in the name of God, to witness against 
the lie ; but she can interfere no farther, except in relation 
to her own members, than to expose and rebuke the false- 
hood. When secular institutions involve no corrupt princi- 
ples her position is one of silence in relation to them. As 
God has neither commanded nor prohibited them, she leaves 
them where He has left them — to the discretion of His chil- 
dren. The simple proposition that all Church-power is 
ministerial and declarative, consistently carried out, explains 
her whole duty. The meaning is, that the Church can only 
execute what God enjoins, and can teach as faith or duty 
only what God reveals. When, therefore, she is requested 
to recommend some human contrivance, she has only to ask 
herself, Has God made it the duty of His people to engage 
in it? Has He anywhere commanded them to join this, 
that or the other society? If not, what right has she to 
require it? If the thing is wrong she has a right to con- 
demn it ; if liable to no moral objections on the score of 
principle, she must be silent ; and the reason of the distinc- 
tion is obvious. All wickedness is contradictory to the law 
of God, and she has a right to declare that law. In the 
other case the question is one of the fitness of means and 
ends, and that is a question of opinion. God has given no 
revelation about it, and therefore she has nothing to declare. 
She may say, if she chooses, that the principles involved 
are not objectionable, but she cannot say that the given ap- 
plication of the principles is ordained of God. In other 
words, in the case of evil she has the positive right to con- 
demn ; in every other she has only the negative right not 
to disapprove. 

It may be said that this conception of the province of 
the Church has never been adequately realized. This is 
only saying that she has never fully comprehended the 
liberty wherewith Christ has made her free. It was a slow 
process to cleanse off all the slime of the Pajiacy. The 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 47 

purest churches in Europe are still bungling about the 
question, perfectly simple to us, concerning the relations of 
the Church to the State. It is not strange that we should 
be perplexed about problems growing out of her peculiar 
posture in America as in one aspect a purely voluntary in- 
stitution. In the mean time, God has been teaehiug us by 
disastrous examples. We have seen the experiment tried in 
certain quarters of reducing the Church to the condition 
of a voluntary society, aiming at the promotion of universal 
good. We have seen her treated as a contrivance for every 
species of reform — individual, social, political. We have 
seen her foremost, under the plea of philanthropy, in every 
species of moral knight-errantry, from the harmless project 
of organizing the girls of a township into a ])in-cushion 
club, to the formation of conspiracies for convulsing gov- 
ernments to their very centre. The result has been pre- 
cisely what might have been expected. Christ has been ex- 
pelled from these pulpits, and almost the only Gospel ^vhich 
is left them is the gospel of the Age of Reason. Extreme 
cases prove princi2)les. If we would avoid a similar con- 
demnation, we must hate even the garments spotted by the 
flesh ; we must crush the serpent in the egg ; we must rig- 
idly restrain the Church within her own proper sphere ; and 
as she refines and exalts the spiritual nature of man, we 
may expect her to purify the whole moral atmosphere, and 
indirectly, through the life which she imparts to the soul, to 
contribute to the prosperity of every human interest. Her 
power in the secular sphere is that of a sanction and not 
a rule. As pre-eminently suited to the present time, when 
this subject is beginning to awaken the interest which its 
importance deserves, we commend the twentieth and twenty- 
second chapters of the treatise before us. 

The future of the kingdom of God — that is, the dispensa- 
tions of the covenant of grace beyond the economy of the 
Gospel under which we live — Dr. Breckinridge has reserved 
for a few modest and cautious suggestions at the close of the 
book. He thinks that there are two dispensations yet to 



48 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE 

come — the dispensation of millennial glory to "be inaugurated 
by the second advent of the Redeemer, and the dispensation 
of heavenly blessedness to be inaugurated by the delivery 
up of the Lamb's Book of Life. We are delighted with 
the spirit which pervades the exposition of these topics, and 
equally delighted that though Dr. Breckinridge coincides in 
some of the leading views of the Millennarians, he repudiates 
the crudities — we had almost said the monstrosities — which 
disfigure the publications of that sect. He has no idea of 
a period in which Christ is to become subordinate to Moses, 
and in which it shall be the highest glory of the Gentiles 
to turn Jews. We may diflPer from Dr. Breckinridge as to 
the competency of the Gospel dispensation, under augmented 
measures of the Spirit, to subdue the world to Christ, but 
we are heartily at one with him as to the duty of the Church 
to preach the Gospel to every creature. We may differ 
from him as to the state of things preceding and introduced 
by the second advent of Christ, but we are at one with him 
as to the necessity of watching and praying and struggling 
for His coming. It is the great hope of the future, as uni- 
versal evangelization is the great duty of the present. If 
the Church could be aroused to a deeper sense of the glory 
that awaits her, she would enter with a warmer spirit into 
the struggles that are before her. Hope would inspire 
ardour. She would even now rise from the dust, and like 
the eagle plume her pinions for loftier flights than she has 
yet taken. What she wants, and what every individual 
Christian wants, is faith — faith in her sublime vocation, in 
her Divine resources, in the presence and efficacy of the 
Spirit that dwells in her — faith in the truth, faith in Jesus, 
and faith in God. With such a faith there would be no 
need to speculate about the future. That would speedily 
reveal itself. It is our unfaithfulness, our negligence and 
unbelief, our low and carnal aims, that retard the chariot 
of the Redeemer. The Bridegroom cannot come until ihe 
Bride has made herself ready. Let the Church be in earn- 
est after greater holiness in her own members, and in faith 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 49 

and love undertake the conquest of the world, and she will 
soon settle the question whether her resources are competent 
to change the face of the earth. We are content to await 
the progress of events. In the mean time, who that has 
ever reflected upon these great realities, and groaned in 
spirit at the clouds and darkness which beset them, can 
withhold his sympathy from the man who writes the fol- 
lowing lines? — 

" In every point of view, therefore, the glory of the INTes- 
siah seems to be immediately and transcendently involved in 
His second coming and millennial reign. And His loving 
and trusting children ought to beware of dishonouring him 
and deadening their own high and spiritual hopes by low 
and carnal allegorizing about these sublime mysteries, as 
well as of deluding themselves by vain and shallow dogma- 
tizing concerning them, as if they were perfectly simple and 
elemental. For myself I speak concerning them, after many 
years of anxious meditation, as one who would prefer not to 
speak, and who feels assuredly that they who will follow us 
will get a clearer insight as they draw nearer to them. The 
grand and leading ideas which belong to the future progress 
and glorious consummation of God's eternal covenant seem 
to me to be perfectly clear. Around these are other ideas, 
carrying with them, apparently, the highest probability . of 
truth, but not a satisfying assurance that we comprehend 
them justly. And then around these, in circles perpetually 
enlarging, are topics vast and numerous, involving God and 
man and the universe, and questions the most intricate and 
overwhelming concerning them all, in which a single inspired 
word misunderstood, or even a shade of thought wrongly 
conceived, may involve us fiir beyond our scanty knowledge 
and feeble powers. And how could it be otherwise ? It is 
the infinite and eternal thought of God, not yet realized in its 
actual accomplishment, which mortals are striving to pene- 
trate and disclose." — Page 681. 

In the conclusion of the meagre and imperfect sketch which 
we have attempted to give of the contents of this volume it 

Vol. II.— 4 



50 TH EULOGY AS A LIFE 

only remains to form a general estimate of its merits, and of 
the place which it is likely to occupy in our religious litera- 
ture. Accepting Theology as a science of positive truth — 
that is, of truth which can be certainly and infallibly known 
— the author has attempted to construct the system in such 
a manner that each particular proposition sliould not only 
authenticate itself by its own light, but command conviction 
by its manifest relation to the whole. The autopistic power 
of the truth is more prominent in the second than in the first 
volume. In the first, which is purely speculative, the theory 
charms by its consistency, clearness and coherence — the tem- 
ple which is reared is a grand thing to look on and a noble 
thing to contemplate ; but in the second another element is 
added, the element of experience. The Holy Ghost bears 
witness in the human soul, and man is no longer a spectator, 
but a worshipper, and actually beholds the glory of God as 
He displays His grace above the mercy-seat. That a work 
whose aim was to make Divine truth speak for itself, first to 
the understanding as a matter of speculation and then to the 
heart as a spiritual power, if executed with even tolerable 
ability, must be entitled to respectful consideration, is obvious 
from the nature of the case. That a book on experimental 
religion, professing to trace it, not in the light of philosophy, 
but in the light of the written Word — which compares the 
impression with the stamp, the life with the doctrine — that 
such a work, if executed by one who has any real insight 
into the mysteries of grace, must be pre-eminently useful to 
the children of God, is equally clear. All this might have 
been said if these books had been written by feebler hands. 
The second volume we think in all respects superior to the 
first. It touches a chord which vibrates in every Christian 
heart, and though specially prepared with reference to the 
training of ministers of the Gospel, it is equally adapted to 
the edification and comfort of the humblest child of God. 
" Tlie penitent and believing followers of the Saviour of sin- 
ners," "they who fervently desire life after death," will 
" find light and consolation " in what the author has written. 



IN INDIVIDUALS AND IN THE CHURCH. 51 

and that which he " has done will live." We have received 
the most grateful testimonies to its worth. Unsophisticated 
believers, who knew nothing of Theology except what God 
had taught them, have spoken of the book to us in terras 
which showed how much good they had gotten from it ; and 
we have before us the case of a young minister of more than 
ordinary promise who professed to have derived more bene- 
fit from it than from all the treatises he had read. It not 
only warmed his own heart, but taught him how to warm 
the hearts of others. We do not say that the book is free 
from faults — it has faults, faults of method and faults of ex- 
pression — but they do not seriously impair its sterling merits. 
We have already intimated that the separation of the objec- 
tive, subjective, and relative — or, as we should prefer to ex- 
press it, the speculative, practical, and polemical — strikes us 
as arbitrary and little suited to the successful culture of the 
science. Theology is one ; it is either wholly sjjeculative, 
wholly practical, or mixed. In our judgment the mode of 
treatment should correspond to its own essence, and should 
not be successively adapted to the single elements which con- 
stitute that essence. If Theology is purely speculative, it 
should be expounded exclusively in the light of theory ; if it 
is wholly practical, it should be taught with a special refer- 
ence to the activities it is intended to call into play ; if mixed, 
it should be treated as a combination in which these elements 
are jointly and not successively found. For our own part, 
we dislike the phrase mixed as applied to the manner in 
which speculation and practice enter into the religious life. 
There is no mixture, but these phases of our being are 
blended into the unity of a higher energy. Spiritual energy 
is one, but it includes every lower intellectual and moral 
energy. To explain : We have one form of mental energy 
in the mere assent to truth ; this is the lowest exercise of 
reason. Then we have another form of mental activity in 
the perception of the beautiful. Here there is combined 
with assent a feeling or an emotion. The combination is 
what we mean by the sense of the beautiful. So- in the 



52 THEOLOGY AS A LIFE. 

sense of duty or obligation there is also an intellectual and 
an emotional element, but they constitute one energy. In 
the religious life we have a combination of the purely intel- 
lectual, the aesthetic, and the moral into a still higher energy ; 
and the science of Theology should be treated according to 
this characteristic of true religion. Hence it leads to a need- 
less repetition to represent successively what the nature of 
the thing presents in combination, and we cannot but think 
that Dr. Breckinridge is occasionally hampered by the 
restraints of his method. Still, whatever defects the book 
may have they are only blemishes. Its solid worth is 
hardly affected at all. He has not written in vain. There 
are thousands of hearts that bless him, of which he will 
never know until he meets them before that throne where 
he and they will better understand and appreciate the infinite 
grace of a glorious Saviour which he has so lovingly 
described. His book is a noble testimony to truths which, 
but for his exertions in concert with those of a congenial 
band of confessors, would have been almost forgotten in the 
present generation. It well deserves to be the crowning 
labour of a life which has been zealously devoted to the vin- 
dication of the grace of God against fraudulent suppressions 
on the one hand, and sophistical evasions on the other ; and 
long, long may he continue to speak through these refreshing 
pages! 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



The Necessity and Natxtke of Christianity is taken from the 
"Southern Presbyterian Keview," for March, 1849. It constituted the 
substance of a sermon preached to the students of the South Carolina 
College, its author being Chaplain and Professor of Moral Philosophy 
and the Evidences of Christianity in that institution. 

53 



THE NECESSITY 

AND 

NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY. 



THE first public conflict, as Milman properly remarks/ 
betwixt Christianity and Paganism took place at 
Athens. The champion on the one side was Paul, the dis- 
tinguished Apostle of the Gentiles, who had himself been a 
relentless persecutor of the Gospel, and who had been gra- 
ciously honoured with supernatural evidence of its truth. 
He was prepared to speak what he knew and to testify 
what he had seen. On the other side were certain philoso- 
phers of the Epicureans and Stoics, impelled partly by 
curiosity and partly by vanity of contest to encounter one 
whom their philosophic pride prompted them to stigmatize 
as a babbler, and their settled indifference to truth to re- 
ceive as a setter-forth of strange gods. 

The loss of Athenian independence had removed tlie 
checks which, in ancient times, political considerations had 
arbitrarily imposed upon freedom of debate and liberty of 
discussion in regard to the popular religion ; and though 
this renowned city was still the headquarters of the reign- 
ing superstitions of the world, no philosopher was likely, 
for the sake of his opinions, however apparently licentious 
or heretical, to be exposed to the fate of Socrates, Stilpo or 
Diagoras. In the schools of Atlicns, no subjects were too 
sacred for discussion, too profound for inquiry, or too sublime 
and mvsterious to awe the efforts of vain curiosity. The 
stubborn doctrines of the Stoics, the polite, accommodating 

1 History of Christianity, Book II., chap, iii., p. 178. Amer. Ed. 

55 



/ 



56 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

principles of the Epicureans, the sentimental refinements 
of Plato and the practical methods of the illustrious Stagi- 
rite, the claims of the popular worship, the superstitions of 
the mass, and the hidden mysteries disclosed to a chosen 
few, — were matters of free, open, unrebuked debate. In such 
a city, the long-chosen abode of philosophy, science and the 
arts, the literary metropolis of the world, rendered holy to 
a freeman by the mute memorials of Independence eloquent 
in ruins, — in such a city, and among such a people, the 
Apostle of the Gentiles appears the champion of the Gos- 
pel, against philosophy, science, idolatry, superstition — all 
the wisdom of this world arrayed in enmity to God. To 
the eye of sense the odds were fearfully against him. His 
name and country were identified, among the Pagan na- 
tions around him, with all that was little, contracted and 
mean. A Jew by birth, exclusive in his religion, and a 
reputed bigot in his opinions, he presented, in his national 
associations, those features of disgust which provoked the 
satire of Juvenal, the contempt of Gallio and the raillery 
of Martial. It is true Paul was a scholar skilled in Gre- 
cian models ; but all his pretensions to refinement and ele- 
gance were sunk in the fact that he was a Jcio, as the valour 
and courtly influence of Naaman were nothing to the damn- 
ing consideration that after all he was a leper. But curi- 
osity was too strong for either prejudice or contempt. His 
disputes in the synagogue with his own brethren, his in- 
structions to those whom he found seriously intent upon the 
duties of religion, and his public discussions in the market- 
place with all whom the providence of God threw in his 
way, had made him the object of attention to the leading 
sects of philosophy. Then certain philosophers of the Epi- 
cureans and of the Stoics encountered him} 

We may here pause to contemplate the contrast in their 

motives and aims and those of the servant of Jesus. He 

had come to Athens as a stranger. Driven from Thessalo- 

nica by a popular tumult excited by religious bigotry, he 

^ Acts xvii. 18. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 67 

sought safety and quiet in this mart of learning, elegance 
and Paganism; and while tarrying for his brethren, his 
spirit was stirred in him when he saw the eity wholly o-iven 
to idolatry. He looked not upon its statues and temples, 
its altars and sacrifices, with the eye of poetry or taste. 
These ornaments of art, these imposing monuments of 
genius and skill, however they might adorn the names and 
perpetuate the memories of Phidias and Praxiteles, were an 
insult to God ; and, like Elijah, the prophet of another dis- 
pensation, he was very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts. 
His imagination could not expatiate in rapture upon scenes 
which proclaimed too plainly to the ear of faith that the 
curse of the Almighty was there. What signified the 
beauty of the work when the end was death ? While he 
mused and saw, the fire burned ; the love of Christ, an 
emotion felt for the first time, perhaps, upon that classic 
soil — zeal for the glory of God, intense desires for the salva- 
tion of the lost, the terrific sanctions of the law, — all pressed 
upon him and roused his noble spirit to lift up his voice 
like a trumpet, to cry aloud and spare not. He was a man 
of God, and the word of the Lord was like fire in his 
bones. His position was indeed sublime, and though the 
object of contempt, ridicule or idle curiosity to others, he 
was raised by the grandeur of his mission and a Tenant in 
his heart whom the world knew not yet, above all the petty 
desires which vanity, pride or ambition could suggest, and 
like his Divine Master prayed in spirit for those who de- 
spised him. He had no doubtful disputations to propose, 
but a message to proclaim in the name of God. He was 
no dialectician from the Schools, but an ambassador of the 
skies ; he preached not the wisdom of men, but the wisdom 
of God in a mystery. He spake with the confidence of 
one whose feet rested upon the rock of eternal truth, and 
with the persuasiveness of one Avho was not a lord of the 
faith, but a helper of the joy of his hearers. The zeal, de- 
votion and deep convictions which glowed in his soul made 
him earnest, but neither an enthusiast nor fanatic. His 



58 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

discourse is managed with consummate skill, and while the 
Word of the Lord is plainly declared, it is studiously 
framed with a reference to the state, prejudices and opinions 
of the assembly. Paul had seen, among the monuments 
of Athens, an altar to the Unknown God. This furnishes 
the Apostle with a text. He begins with the statement of a 
general fact, true of all men, but pre-eminently true of the 
Athenians, that the interests of religion, in some form or 
other, must and will exact attention. Man is essentially a 
religious animal. His nature calls for religious worship. 
He must have a God to pray to, as well as a God to swear 
by, and while the true God is unknown the heart will be 
filled with idols in His place. All idolatry consists essen- 
tially in the false worship of the true, or a superstitious wor- 
ship of the unknown, God. Having paved his way to the 
favourable attention of his hearers, Paul proceeds to reca- 
pitulate the leading doctrines of Natural Religion, to some 
of which, with more or less modification, the Stoics might 
assent, and to others the Epicureans.^ The doctrines of 
providence, of human responsibility, of a moral government, 
are not only announced, but are pressed as formal arguments 
against a false worship, and urged as motives for seeking to 
be ascertained of the truth. The obvious dictates of na- 
ture, if properly heeded, are sufficient to condemn idolatry. 
The fall of man, his present depravity, and the necessity 
of repentance, are briefly and compendiously stated, and 
then the peculiar doctrines of the Gos^Jel are summarily 
discussed under the heads of Jesus and the resurrection. 

The effects of this sermon are briefly detailed by the his- 
torian.^ Some of them treated the matter with downright 
scorn ; others were afraid that it might be true, but were not 
prepared to make the sacrifices which a full assent would 
obviously require. Still there were a few, a select and no- 
ble band, consisting alike of plebeians and philosophers, who 
clave to the Apostle and believed his doctrines. It is re- 

1 Milman's History of Christ, Book II., chap, iii., p. 179. Amer. Ed. 

2 Acts xvii. 32-34. 



OP CHRISTIANITY. 59 

markable that these effects were produced, not by Paul's dis- 
sertations upon natural religion, upon the being and provi- 
dence of God, the accountability of man, and the strict 
moral government which has been established in the world. 
He seems to have been heard with patience as long as he 
insisted upon these and kindred topics. Even his denun- 
ciations of idolatry, though a direct rebuke of their practice, 
and a tacit imputation upon their understanding or integ- 
rity, awakened no visible displeasure. But the very mo- 
ment that the Apostle entered upon the territory of grace, and 
proceeded to expound those mysteries of the Gospel which 
eye had not seen nor ear heard, neither had it entered into 
the heart of man to conceive, the effect was striking and 
characteristic ; some mocked, others said. We will hear thee 
again of this matter, and only here and there an auditor 
received the engrafted Word and lived. 

This sermon of Paul at Athens deserves our serious atten- 
tion, as it sets forth, in brief and pregnant heads, the whole 
contents of revelation, and the essential doctrines in particu- 
lar of what is properly and exclusively Christianity. Reve- 
lation and Christianity are not convertible terms. Every- 
thing that even the Bible contains is not a part of Chris- 
tianity. There have been at least three dispensations of 
this religion, distinguished from each other by outward 
form and accidental circumstances ; and each of these is de- 
scribed in the Bible, and the peculiarities of each throw light 
upon the general scheme to which they all pertain. 

Everything in revelation is subsidiary to Christianity, but 
is not necessarily part and parcel of its being. Some things 
are presupposed in it — their truth is essential to its arrange- 
ments ; and other things belong to the age, people and coun- 
try of its first introduction. All these subsidiary and inci- 
dental circumstances are to us the subjects of revelation, 
and therefore to be received with uudoubting faith, but 
much may be received and the Gospel in its essence not be 
embraced, and many revealed facts may be unknown and 
yet the salvation of the Gospel imparted. It is, therefore, 



60 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

a profoundly interesting question, What is Christianity? 
What are the essential features of that system which Jesus 
introduced into the world, and which without His interpo- 
sition would not only have been unknown, but would not 
and could not have been true ? What are those peculiari- 
ties which, wherever they have been proclaimed, whether 
on the Areopagus of Athens, in the seats of modern learn- 
ing, the halls of science, the church, the market-place or 
meeting-house, have uniformly made some mock, and stag- 
gered others, until God by His Spirit gave them a lodg- 
ment in the heart? The solution of this question is of fun- 
damental importance. Our lives depend upon it. True, 
the Gospel is a simple system ; but notwithstanding its sim- 
plicity multitudes perish with a lie in their right hands, 
fondly dreaming that they are in the ark, when they are 
only sheltered by bulrushes. Thousands mistake what 
Christianity is and die ; they kindle a fire and walk in its 
light, and receive the punishment at God's hand that they 
shall lie down in sorrow. Let us, therefore, address our- 
selves to this question with the solemnity and earnestness 
the nature of the subject demands. 

The course of thought pursued by the Apostle in this cele- 
brated sermon, the disposition and arrangement of his topics, 
and the obvious relations which they sustain to each other, 
will correct many prevalent errors, and conduct us by an 
easy process to the precise views which ought to be enter- 
tained. Paul first insists upon the necessity of the Gospel, 
and then announces its doctrines in their adaptation to the 
wants they were designed to relieve. 

1 . First, then, what is the necessity of Christianity ? What 
is the call for it in the circumstances of our race? And 
what end, consequently, was it designed to answer? The 
necessity of revelation is a point upon which Christian 
apologists are accustomed to insist as establishing the ante- 
cedent credibility of the fact ; and though their arguments 
are, for the most part, conclusive, as showing the likelihood 
of some interposition to mitigate our ignorance, they fail to 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 61 

present the peculiar need of such a dispensation as that of 
the Gospel. It is too frequently taken for granted that " the 
supposition of sin does not bring in any new religion, but 
only makes new circumstances and names of old things, and 
requires new helps and advantages to improve our powers, 
and to encourage our endeavours ; and thus the law of grace 
is nothing but a restitution of the law of nature."^ The 
ground ordinarily assumed is the ignorance of man and the 
goodness of God ; and this ignorance, which seems to be re- 
garded as the principal injury of the fall, has reference to 
the great facts of natural religion, which, if known, would 
have sufficient efficacy to secure amendment of life and ever- 
lasting happiness. The controversy has been, in many in- 
stances, so conducted W'ith the Deists as to convey the im- 
pression that the doctrines of nature w^ere sufficient to con- 
stitute the complete religion of a sinner ; the sole point in 
dispute being the competency of reason to discover these 
doctrines without supernatural aid.^ We are represented as 
creatures destined for another life, and needing information 
in reference to its character and its connection with the 
present, which cannot be derived from the light of nature. 
In this view Christianity is no new religion ; it is only a 
new publication of that which subsisted from the beginning 
of our race. It is a revelation, strictly and properly so called, 
and nothing more ; and its whole relation to us is exhausted 
when we receive and submit to it as a Divine teacher.^ We 

1 This extraordinaiy statement is quoted by Halyburton from one who, 
he says, " wore a mitre." — Nat. Eel. Insuf., chap. 1, p. 279— Works in 
one volume. 

2 This is the impression left by Paley ; and it is clearly the doctrine 
of Mr. Locke. His Christianity is nothing but Revealed Deism. 

3 It is very unfortunate that the distinctions between Christianity and 
natural religion have been expressed by the terms natural and revealed 
religion. The idea obviously suggested by this phraseology is that their 
difference lies in the sources whence we derive our knowledge of them. 
Nothing, however, has been more clearly proved by Christian writers — 
among whom we may especially refer to Halyburton and to Norris— 
than that we are as much indebted to revelation for any adequate know- 
ledge of natural religion as for the mysteries of the Gospel. They are 



62 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

are ignorant, for example, of a future life ; or if we have, 
from the operations of conscience or the spontaneous desires 
of the soul, vague convictions or indistinct impressions of 
continued existence in another state or among other scenes, 
the evidence is too feeble and shadowy to furnish the 
grounds of a steady belief Christianity, accordingly, re- 
lieves our blindness and brings life and immortality to light. 
The apprehensions of nature it reduces to realities ; its vague 
impressions to the certainty of facts. So, again, without 
revelation we are represented as uncertain whether our con- 
duct here shall affect our destinies hereafter, or what is the 
nature of the connection which subsists between the present 
and the future. Christianity comes to our assistance and 
teaches us that this present world is a school for eternity ; 
and that according to our characters and conduct here will 
be our destiny hereafter. This is the method in which the 
apologists for Christianity have too often conducted the 
argument with the Deists. There has been no dispute be- 
tween them as to what religion is sufficient to secure the hap- 
piness of a sinner. They are, for the most part, agreed in 
its nature and principles ; but it has been keenly debated 
whether reason, since the fall, is capable of discovering this 
religion without supernatural assistance, or of authenticating 
it with sufficient evidence to make it of practical importance. 
We may admit that the argument is conclusive as conducted 
by the friends of revelation. Natural religion is certainly 
not the offspring of natural light. In the present condition 
of our race, whatever may be the evidences which exist 
within us and around us of the being, perfection and cha- 
racter of God, of the condition of man, and the relation he 
sustains to his Creator, his darkened faculties are incompe- 
tent to gather from them the conceptions which make up the 

both revealed. The difference between them is radical and essential, and 
not accidental or contingent. They are different religions. One is the 
religion of our nature before the fall ; the other the religion of grace after 
the fall. The one contemplates God simply as a moral Governor ; the 
other as a Saviour and Kedeemer. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 63 

fabric of natural religion, however he may prove its truth 
from these sources after the ideas have been suggested to the 
mind. We confidently believe that if natural religion were 
the sole religion of a sinner, revelation would still be neces- 
sary to teach us what it is, to re|niblish it with light and 
power, to free it from corruption, superstition and abuse, 
and present it in the symmetry of its parts and the integrity 
of its combination. But then this, although a revelation, 
would not be Christianity, It might remove the veil from 
the eye of ignorance, and unfold realities of tremendous 
power to alarm the guilty and stimulate the righteous ; but 
all its truths would be independent of the mission of the 
Saviour, except in so far as he was the instrument in the 
hands of Providence to unfold them. That this whole 
theory is fundamentally wrong — though sustained by the 
splendid names of Locke and Paley, though the favourite 
and cherished hypothesis, during the dynasty of the Stuarts, 
defended alike by mitred prelates and humble curates — that 
Christianity is something more, immeasurably more than a 
revelation of truths, which in themselves were independent 
of the mission of Christ, may be inferred from the order and 
connection in which Paul has here introduced the mysteries 
of the Gospel. It is not a little remarkable that every soli- 
tary element of the system which those who take this view 
of the subject make it the object of Jesus to communicate, 
was insisted on by the Apostle before he gets to the Gospel. 
The great doctrines of natural religion which constituted the 
faith and the worship of man before the fall, are treated as 
preliminary to the distinctive peculiarities of Christianity. 
The creed of Herbert — the most liberal of the Deists, as 
good a Christian as many who have defended miracles and 
prophecy — so far as this creed is natural religion, is recapit- 
ulated by the Apostle as introductory to the Gospel. The 
unity of God; His absolute independence and universal 
sovereignty ; the relation in which He stands to men ; the 
necessity of religious worship,- and the guilt and folly of 
idolatry ; the perfection of His moral government, and the 



64 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

essential, unchangeable distinctions of right and wrong, — 
these are all eloquently enforced, but these are not the Gos- 
pel. We do not say that they are not revealed truths — we 
do not say that any religion is the offspring of mere natural 
light ; but we do say, and the method of the Apostle justifies 
us in saying it, that although these are truths of revelation, 
and truths which must be recognized in order to understand 
the Gospel, yet they are not Christianity. We will go a step 
farther and assert that the natural religion which Paul 
preached on Mars' Hill contained propositions which unas- 
sisted reason is utterly, under any circumstances, incompe- 
tent to discover; and which yet, from the beginning, must 
have been parts of the primitive religion of the race. He 
insists upon the Federal Headship of Adam. This is the 
fundamental truth in nature's system. We are of 07ie blood. 
There is a mysterious unity in our race, indicated by a com- 
mon descent and a common nature, in consequence of which 
we sustain diiferent relations to each other from those which 
we would have sustained if we had been separate, independ- 
ent, isolated beings. In our world there is not only society, 
but kindred — not only similarity, but identity of nature ; 
and our religion proceeds upon a principle which recognizes 
this unity, and in its great charter of hope treated with the 
race in one man. So, also, the doctrine of the Trinity is a 
doctrine of natural religion. But there might have been 
imparted to us a knowledge of the object of worship, the 
great federal dispensation under which our race was created, 
and the consequent condemnation and ruin of mankind in 
the first man, who was of the earth, earthy, — and yet not a 
single doctrine of the Gospel, as connected with the mission 
of Jesus, be known. Nay, all these things, whether known 
or not, would have been true had Jesus never been born 
or never died. Paul's Christianity, therefore, was something 
more than a republication of natural religion, even in its 
true form and perfect proportions, as adoring the Trinity 
and binding the race in a federal compact with a common 
head. The Apostle virtually admits that in our present 



or CHRISTIANITY. 65 

state we cannot discover the true system under wliieh we 
were born, and which attaches to our natures as moral and 
as human. There was a season of ignorance in wliich all 
who had no revelation were permitted to walk. But the re- 
moval of this ignorance is not all that the Gospel proposes ; 
it is a new dispensation, out of which new duties and new 
relations to God spontaneously grow. God now commandeth 
all men everywhere to repent, because He hath appointed a 
day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness 
by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath 
given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him 
from the dead. It is plain that Paul regarded Jesus as in- 
troducing a religion whose distinctive law, so far as it re- 
spected human conduct and obedience, was the law of re- 
pentance. We shall not stop to inquire whether repentance 
is a duty of nature ; but as here unfolded by the A]>ostle it 
depends upon principles supernatural and Divine. But the 
argument which we would frame from this passage, against 
the supposition that the prime necessity of our nature arises 
from our ignorance, and is therefore to be relieved simply 
by revelation, is drawn from the importance which the 
Apostle attaches to the resurrection of Jesus and the conse- 
quent resurrection of the dead. The religion which Paul 
preached at Athens, and which the necessities of all men re- 
quire, is a religion into which this fact must enter. We nnist 
bear in mind that the resurrection, neither of Jesus nor His 
followers, is ever treated in the Christian Scriptures as a 
proof of Christianity ; it is always made a part of it — an es- 
sential, indispensable element of the scheme. It is not pre- 
sented to us simply as a miracle, authenticating the Divine 
mission of Christ, though of course this must be an incidental 
result, but it is treated as being as really, and truly, and 
necessarily a component part of the Gospel as the death or 
incarnation of the Saviour. PauP sums up the whole of 
Christianity in Jesus and the resurrection : For I delivered 
unto you, first of all, that which I also received ; how that 
1 Acts xvii. 18; 1 (Dor. xv. 3. 
Vol. II.— 5 



60 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that 
He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, ac- 
cording to the Scriptures. The death, burial, resurrection 
of Christ, — tliese were the facts upon which the Gospel de- 
pended that Paul preached at Athens and Corinth. To 
represent the resurrection as a mere proof of Christianity, 
resting upon the same footing with the other miracles of the 
New Testament, and authenticating Christ's supernatural 
commission in the same way, is without sanction from the 
Scriptures. It is never treated simply as a credential — a 
motive to belief, but not the thing to be believed. On the 
contrary, Paul affirms that if Jesus be not risen our preach- 
ing is vain, and your faith is also vain — the Gospel is abso- 
lutely worthless. This cannot be said of any single miracle 
of the Saviour or His apostles. They might have wrought 
more, they might have wrought fewer ; the Gospel would 
have been the same. But if Jesus had not risen, there would 
have been no Gospel, and we should have been in our sins. 

The passage in Romans which seems to make the resur- 
rection a proof of the Sonship of Christ has a much wider 
sweep than interpreters have been accustomed to give to it. 
The ordinary view is, that as Christ before Plis death liad 
declared Himself to be the Son of God, and as He was con- 
demned by the Jewish courts upon the ground of His super- 
natural pretensions to a Divine generation alone, His resur- 
rection from the dead was the endorsement by the Father 
of the veracity of His own testimony. But, according to 
this view, any other miracle would have answered the same 
purpose. The darkened heavens, the yawning earth, the 
cleaving rocks and the rising dead had already proclaimed 
His Sonship as truly as the resurrection — proclaimed it so 
loudly and powerfully that the centurion confessed the stu- 
pendous truth, while all the people that came together to 
that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote 
their breasts and returned.^ The impressions of that scene 
were as awful and convincing as any mere miracles could 
1 Luke xxiii. 47-49. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 67 

possibly have made. Every previous miracle had as much 
authenticated the Divine mission of Jesus, and, of course 
the Divine truth of all that He had uttered, as this final one 
of His resurrection from the dead. And that (Jod never 
intended it as a mere proof is evident from the fact that He 
did not show Himself openly to all the people, but to wit- 
nesses chosen beforehand. 

The whole reasoning of the Apostle goes upon the suppo- 
sition that His resurrection directly declared His Sonship ; it 
did not simply declare that he spoke the truth when he 
affirmed it, but it attested the fact independently of any 
such connection. The Psalmist, looking to this great event, 
represents the Almighty as proclaiming by it, Thou art my 
Son, this day have I begotten Thee ; ^ and M'hen He ascended 
into heaven the joyful acclamation was heard, " God is gone 
up with a shout, Jehovah with the sound of a tru'n])ct."^ 

It is, therefore, evident that both the Old Testament and 
the New represent the resurrection not only as an integral 
part of Christianity, but as a pregnant proof of the eternal 
Sonship of Christ, and consequently every scheme must be 
false in which this great fact is not obviously possessed of 
this distinction. Whatever the Gospel is, it must be some- 
thing into which the resurrection essentially enters, and so 
enters as to establish the Sonship of Jesus ; and as neither 
the one nor the other can be affirmed of His office as a 
Prophet, it is very certain that the necessity which Paul 
contemplated must lie much deeper than the natural igno- 
rance of man in regard to truths which are independent of 
the mission of Jesus. It is obvious that whatever the Gos- 
pel is, its truths must have been created by the mission of 
Jesus. They would not have existed at all if He had not 
been born, crucified, buried, and if He had not risen from 
the dead. 

Enough has been said to show that Paul contemplated 
Christianitv as something more than a revelation. This 
proposition may strike our readers as hardly worth the 
1 Ps. ii. 7 : Acts xiii. 33. = Ps. xlvii. 5. 



66 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

labour we have expended upon it, but those who have been 
brought most in contact with the educated minds of the 
country must be sensible that the difficulties which they ex- 
perience in Christianity are largely owing to this low view. 

The principles of natural religion seem so reasonable, 
when once they are fairly proposed, that it is hard to get 
quit of the conviction that what so obviously commends 
itself to the understandings and consciences of men might 
have been discovered without supernatural light. The pre- 
sumption against revelation is increased by confining its 
scope to a department of truths which were certainly the 
original furniture of reason, and which, when once they are 
announced, reason, apart from the influence of prejudice and 
passion, does not hesitate to recognize. To tell us that na- 
ture and Christianity embrace exactly the same religion, 
that Christianity is distinguished by nothing but the source 
from which it springs, that its sole object is to publish with 
clearness and enforce with authority the doctrines of nature, 
is to put its necessity on a footing which, however success- 
fully it may be maintained, will seldom produce that deep 
and earnest conviction of need which hails the Gospel with 
joy, and detects in its provisions an adequate reason for the 
interposition of God. This low view of the subject has not 
only to encounter the supposed presumption against revela- 
tion in general, but an additional presumption against that 
species of revelation which, with an immense apparatus of 
means, does little more than enlarge the territory of know- 
ledge and dispel a few floating clouds from the atmosphere 
of truth. The great bell of the universe is rung to preach 
a sermon of Avhicli nature was previously in possession of 
the heads. 

Lord Herbert's difficulties with Christianity arose, for 
the most part, from an utter misconception of its principal 
design. The question could never be raised concerning the 
sufficiency of reason i£ the proper end of the Gospel were 
kept steadily in view. Deism was comparatively unknown 
in England until a style of preaching was adopted which 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 69 

confounded morality with holiness, habits with tlie Spirit of 
God, and faith with a general conviction of truth — which 
discarding all its distinctive doctrines, reduced Christianity 
to a frozen system of heathenism, and made the ministers 
of Jesus little better than the " miserable apes of Epictetus." 
When the prelate and the curate were equally anxious to 
have the world believe that their Gospel had exploded the 
antiquated notions of spirituality and grace, that such un- 
couth phrases as justification, adoption, regeneration and 
redemption were stripped of their repulsiveness, and ad- 
justed as well to the notions as the dialect of fashionable 
life, it is not to be wondered at that men should stare at 
the pomp of ])reparation with which such a religion had 
been announced to the world. The affluence of means and 
the poverty of result were so conspicuously in contrast that 
the question seems to have been naturally suggested, whe- 
ther, if this were all, reason might not have been left to 
itself. We can symjjathize with such difficulties ; and though 
we are far from asserting — for we by no means believe — that 
unassisted reason since the fall would ever have discovered 
the w hole system of natural religion, yet we are as far from 
asserting that Christianity is the form in which a revelation 
designed chiefly to assist reason would have been given. 
To this inadequate conception of its office, as a mere hand- 
maid to nature, is owing in some degree the fact tliat the 
whole current of modern philosophy, under the pretext of 
great veneration for religion, is fatal in its tendencies to the 
claim of inspiration. The sufficiency of reason has been 
defended, not on historical but psychological grounds, and 
the excellency of Christianity is rej^resentcd as consisting 
in the distinctness and fullness with which it echoes the 
voice of nature. This is to betray the Saviour with a kiss. 
These insidious assaults may indeed be repelled by direct 
arguments, but we can only reach the source of the evil by 
placing the necessity of the Gospel on its true basis. The 
change which sin has introduced in the relations of our race 
to God, and the glorious provisions of the new covenant, 



70 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

must be set in the light in vvhicli the Scriptures uniformly 
put them, if we would not judge of Divine revelation by a 
false standard. To show that ignorance is not the great 
evil which Christ came to dispel, that the scheme of re- 
demption is a vast and mighty dispensation of grace, a stu- 
pendous work which our exigencies demanded and God was 
glorious in doing, is to remove one of the leading difficul- 
ties which press upon educated men when they first turn 
their attention to the subject. They often hesitate because 
they do not understand the case. 

2. Others, unable to escape from the pervading testimony 
of Scripture that the mission of Jesus contemplated a work 
to be done as well as truths to be revealed — that Christianity 
is a grand dispensation of providence and grace, involving a 
series of supernatural acts directed to the salvation of the 
sinner, the history of which in their origin, relations and 
results is the principal instruction it imparts — while they 
discard the low conceptions of an earth-born philasophy 
which can detect in the Gospel nothing but a republication 
of natural religion, fail yet to rise to an adequate apprehen- 
sion of the real nature of Christ's mediation. AVhether it 
be owing to a fastidious modesty which perverts a just dread 
of presumption and a becoming sense of ignorance into a 
refusal to be wise up to what is written, or whether there be 
a lurking dislike of the principle upon which a consistent 
explanation can be given of the method of redemption — 
whatever be the cause, there are men who admit an appa- 
rent necessity of the interposition of the Mediator, and yet 
fail to present in their account of His work any corresjjond- 
ence discoverable by us to the necessity they acknowledge. 
They very justly represent natural religion as unsuited to 
the condition of a sinner; it makes no provision for the 
pardon of the guilty ; it knows nothing of mercy, noth- 
ing of restoration to the favour of God. Conducted upon 
the principle of distributive justice, it promises life to the 
obedient, denounces death to transgressors, but opens no door 
of hope to the wretch who has incurred its curse. It mud 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 71 

render to every man according to his works — " to them who 
by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and 
honour and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that 
are contentious and do not obey the truth, })ut obey unri<rht- 
eousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish 
upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first 
and also of the Gentile." With these representations — not 
so strongly and emphatically made, we confess, as the nature 
of the case seems to us to warrant — of tlie necessity of jus- 
tification to the salvation of a sinner and the hopelessness 
of any justification by personal obedience, it is not a little 
I'emarkable that the persons we have in view should miss 
of the precise nature of redemption in its relations to man, 
and make it the great purpose of the Saviour to introduce 
a new principle of government or a new method of admin- 
istration, which has the eifect of mitigating the severity of 
law, putting the guilty in a capacity of salvation, and fur- 
nishing them with facilities for turning to account the ad- 
vantages of their new condition. This principle is the par- 
don of sin upon repentance. Jesus has made it possible 
that God should receive penitent transgressors into favour, 
and has rendered penitence itself less difficult and arduous 
than it is found to be under the regular and ordinary course 
of nature. How this capacity of salvation has been intro- 
duced by Him the advocates of the system do not pretend 
to explain ; it is due, in some way mysterious to us and 
unrevealed in Scriptures, to His humiliation, sufferings and 
death. It is enough for us to know the fact that repent- 
ance has the efficacy ascribed to it, without presuming to 
inquire how it came to be possessed of it.^ 

^ "Some have endeavoured to explain the efficacy of what Christ has 
done and suffered for us beyond what the Scripture hath authorized ; 
others, probably because they could not explain it, have been for taking 
it away, and confining His office as Redeemer of the world to His in- 
struction, example and government of the Church ; whereas, the doctrine 
of the Gospel appears to be, not only that He taught the efficacy of re- 
pentance, but rendered it of the efficacy which it is by what He did 
and sufiered for us; that He obtained for us the benefit of having our 



72 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

None can censure more severely than ourselves that arro- 
gance of understanding which refuses to recognize any dis- 
pensation as Divine which cannot be adjusted to the measures 
of human probability. We are too sensible of the ignorance 
of man and the greatness of God to dream for a moment of 
making our finite reason the standard of the counsels of in- 
finite wisdom ; and we sympathize profoundly with the hu- 
mility of mind, always characteristic of exalted attainments, 
that shrinks in reverence from the clouds and darkness which 
surround the throne of the Eternal. It is the glory of God 
to conceal a thing ; and where He has drawn a veil over the 
operations of His hand it is presumption in us to pry into 
His secrets or speculate with confidence on the mysteries He 
has not thought fit to reveal. But it is neither piety nor 
modesty — it is unbelief, however speciously disguised — which 
makes darkness where God has given light ; mystery, where 
all things are plain. To say that we are left in ignorance 
as to the method by which the mediation of Christ achieves 
the salvation of a sinner, is to contradict all those passages of 
Scripture which directly teach, as well as indirectly imply, that 
the wisdom of God is conspicuously displayed in the scheme 
of redemption, and in which it is made the duty of the saints 
to admire it. " We preach Christ crucified," says the Apostle, 
" unto the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Greeks fool- 
ishness ; but unto them which are called, both Jews and 
Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 
"Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect." 
The lowest conception of wisdom involves the idea that the 
jneans should be adapted to the end, and it is disj)layed only 
in so far as the correspondence betwixt them is capable of 

repentance accepted unto eternal life, not only that He revealed to sin- 
ners that they were in a capacity of salvation, and how they miglit 
obtain it, but, moreover, that He put them in this capacity of salvation 
by wliat He did and suffered for them — put us into a capacity of escaping 
future punishments and obtaining future happiness. And it is our wis- 
dom thankfully to accept the benefit by performing conditions upon which 
it is offered on our part without disputing how it was procured on His." — 
Butler's Analoijy, Ft. ii., chap, v., § 6. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 73 

being discerned. Where the adaptation of means to an end 
is not perceived, wisdom may indeed exist, but it is absurd 
to say that it can be an object of admiration. That emotion 
can be elicited only by an actual contemplation of the fitness 
upon which the wisdom depends. It is, accordingly, impos- 
sible that believers should be expected to glorify that at- 
tribute of God to which, as much as to His power and grace, 
we are indebted for the economy of redemption, if they are 
not permitted to see how the mediation of Christ is adaj)ted 
to effect their salvation. They can no more be filled with 
admiration at the contemplation of a wisdom which is con- 
cealed from their understandings than they can be filled 
with love at the contemplation of a beauty which is hidden 
from their eyes. We are very far from asserting that we, or 
any other finite intelligence, can comprehend the Avhole mys- 
tery of godliness : there are facts in redemption, such as the 
incarnation, and the subsistence of two natures in one person, 
and there may be designs in reference to other worlds, and 
perhaps also in relation to our own, proposed by it in the 
infinite counsels of God, which shall for ever transcend the 
capacities of creatures. We do not pretend to know tlie 
whole case. We hardly presume that we ever shall know 
it. Throughout the countless cycles of eternity we expect 
to occupy the anxious position of the angels, who, previous 
to the advent, are represented as earnestly inquiring into 
these things. The glories of redemption are as boundless, 
the depths of its wisdom as fathomless, as the infinite per- 
fections of the Godhead. But, though there be heights 
which the loftiest genius cannot climb, and depths which no 
finite line can sound, still wc maintain that there is a ^visdom 
which we can discover and a wisdom we are required to 
adore. In so far as our own personal acceptance is involved 
we can see the fitness of Jesus for His work and the fitness 
of His work to the necessities of man. If wc cannot com- 
prehend all the fullness of meaning in which Christ crucified 
is the wisdom of God, wc can at least receive that portion 
of light which irradiates our own salvation ; and we dare not 



74 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

brand as delusion all that joy in Him which flows not simply 
from the faith that He is a Saviour, but from the felt con- 
viction that He is a Saviour peculiarly adapted to our wants. 
We must therefore protest against any hypothesis which dis- 
cards as presumptuous all efforts to explain how the sacrifice 
of Christ contributes to our pardon. Whatever other mys- 
teries surround the cross, this point is not left to the hazard 
of conjecture or the uncertainty of speculation. It is revealed, 
or words have lost their meaning, and the Bible is a book 
of riddles. 

But the most serious objection to the theory in question 
is, that it represents Christ as introducing by His work a 
new principle in the moral government of God, or a new 
method of administration, which cannot be conceived witli- 
out confusion of ideas nor expressed without a contradiction 
in terms. The patrons of the scheme, studious to ]>ut in its 
true light the inadequacy of natural religion, are not wanting 
in proofs that whatever intimations the facts of experience 
may give of the possibility of mercy under the general gov- 
ernment of God, they all point to mediation as the channel 
of compassion, and furnish no ground to suppose that any 
arbitrary purpose on the part of our Judge, or any penitence 
or amendment on our part, could have arrested the execution 
of the curse. Between penitence and pardon they are un- 
able to trace any natural or necessary connection ; but a me- 
diator may cause to be instituted, and in the case of Christ 
has caused to be instituted, a disjjensation of leniency under 
which repentance may be followed by forgiveness. The de- 
fect of natural religion to which Christianity is a remedy is 
not that nature admits of no repentance, but that repentance 
is incapable of securing pardon. The design of mediation is 
to establish a connection between them ; not to make one or 
the other possible or certain, but, supposing them to exist or 
to be capable of existing, to bind them in a new relation un- 
known to nature. 

Now we take leave to say that Christianity has instituted 
no connection between penitence and pardon which is not 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 75 

founded in the very nature of things. Their relation to 
each other is not contingent, but necessary ; not derived 
from the interposition of a Mediator, but from their essen- 
tial relations to God. There never was a case, and there 
never will be a case in all the history of the universe, of a 
penitent sinner's being damned. What is repentance in 
its full development but a restoration to that state of in- 
tegrity and holiness, of knowledge, righteousness and com- 
munion with God, from which Adam by transgression fell ? 
And can we entertain the thought, without horror, that He 
whose nature is in sympathy with the righteous should 
banish into outer darkness those who are devoted to His 
law, who love His name and rejoice in His glory? A 
penitent sinner is one who has been a transgressor, but is 
now just ; the laws of God are now put within his mind 
and written on his heart, and his moral condition is evidently 
one which renders the supposition of punishment incongruous 
and contradictory. Such a mau is as unfit for the atmos- 
phere of hell as an impenitent transgressor is unfit for the 
atmosphere of heaven. There is obviously, therefore, no 
principle of reason or nature, as there is unquestionably none 
of revelation, which teaches that a man may be penitent and 
perish — that he may be driven into fiiuil banishment with 
the love of God in his heart and the praise of God upon his 
tongue. On the contrary, we are expressly taught that " if 
the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, 
and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and 
right, he shall surely live, he shall not die ; all his trans- 
gressions that he hath committed, they shall not be men- 
tioned unto him : in his righteousness that he hath done he 
shall live."^ This seems to be the dictate of right reason. 
The incongruity is so palpable and revolting of dooming to 
destruction one who at the time is possessed of every cle- 
ment of character that puts him in harm(»ny with the [)erfec- 
tions of God, that writers"^ are by no means wanting who 

1 Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. 

* Locke and Warburton may be particularly meiuioned. Of course. 



76 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

are as confident in asserting a natural, as those whom we 
have more immediately in view an instituted, connection be- 
twixt penitence and pardon. The difficulty of natural re- 
ligion is, not that it excludes the penitent from hope, but 
that it precludes the possibility of repentance itself. Upon 
the hypothesis that the thorough and radical change of heart 
and character implied in the Scripture doctrine of sanctifica- 
tion could take place under its administration — that a man 
could be delivered from his moral degradation and reinstated 
into that condition of righteousness to which its promises of 
life are directed — we see no harm in asserting that in his 
righteousness that he hath done he shall live. The question 
under the law of nature in regard to such a case is precisely 
analogous to the question under the law of grace whether an 
apostate saint can be damned. The true answer is that the 
case can never occur. Nature shuts us up in despair because 
it shuts us up in impenitence. The least transgression con- 
tracts guilt ; guilt calls for punishment ; and this punishment 
consists in that banishment from God which is attended, in 
every dependent being, with spiritual death and the unbroken 
dominion of sin. To be a sinner therefore once, is to be a 
sinner for ever, unless some agency should be interposed to 
arrest the natural ^nd ordinary course of justice and law. 
Hence the office of a Mediator must be, not to make rej)ent- 
ance efficacious of pardon, but to make repentance possible. 
It is, accordingly, the great blessing which is promised, as 
well as the paramount duty enjoined under the dispensation 
of the Gospel. In other words, it is the great end of Chris- 
tianity to restore and secure to man the holiness he has lost. 
The first step, it is obvious, which must be taken in this 

however, what they mean by repentance is no real repentance at all. 
That is a change of heart effected by the power which originally formed 
it, and a man thus renewed is evidently in a state of salvation already. 
Holiness is salvation, or there is nothing which deserves the name. But 
the case is very different in relation to those changes which are wrought 
in our characters by the law of habit under the influence of convictions 
and of fear. Such repentance is no preparation for heaven, and such 
penitents are worthy of death. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 77 

work of renovation is the removal of guilt. In the only 
sense in which it can be conceived that repentance is likely 
to be acceptable to God, all its appropriate exercises are the 
results of His favour and of the communication of His 
grace. If the least degree of sin entails spiritual death, if 
death must continue as long as guilt abides, and repentance 
is a resurrection from this state, the guilt, in some way or 
other, must be effaced before life can be imparted. There 
must be pardon before there can be that union with God 
which is the foundation of all holiness as contradistinguished 
from morality. It is guilt which seals the soul in impotence, 
and that guilt must cease to be imputed before a renovation 
of the nature can be effected. To say that an unpardoned 
sinner can repent, is to affirm that he may be under the curse 
and in the favour of God at one and the same time — that he 
is both dead and alive, active and senseless, free and a slave, 
at the same moment and in the same relations. There is no 
method of escaping from these palpable contradictions but 
by making pardon prior in the order of nature to repentance, 
and resolving both into a state of reconciliation, for which 
we are indebted to the gracious interference of a Mediator. 
The same work, whatever it may be, which removes our 
guilt and propitiates the favour of the Father of our spirits, 
entitles us to those communications of love which render us 
meet to enjoy the blessedness of His smile. We must be 
pardoned that we may live ; and we must live in order to 
repent ; so that repentance and pardon are indeed indis- 
solubly connected ; not, however, as cause and effect, nor in 
the order in which they are too commonly presented, but as 
the joint results of a common grace arranged in the relation 
of means to an end, pardon being in order to repentance.^ 

* In what we have said about the priority of pardon to repentance, we 
do not mean that the sense of pardon is experienced, or that the thing 
itself formally takes place, antecedently to regeneration. In the actual 
communication of grace, the heart must be changed before faith can 
exist, and faith must be exerted before justification can be had. But 
the grounds of pardon in the work and intercession of CMirist are pre- 
supposed in any provisions for the renewal and the sanctification of the 



78 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

That these were the doctrines which Paul preached on 
the Areopagus at Athens cannot of course be directly col- 
lected from the brief record of his sermon wdiich has come 
down to us ; but that he could not have taught any different 
theory seems to us plain from the nature of the arguments 
he employed : " And the times of this ignorance God winked 
at, but now commandetli all men everywhere to repent, be- 
cause He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge 
the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath or- 
dained ; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in 
that He hath raised Him from the dead." The Apostle here 
makes it the great design of the Gospel, in contradistinction 
from the law of nature, to inculcate the duty of repentance. 
As long as men were left to the light of their own eyes, 
without any adequate revelations of the method of redemp- 
tion, the doctrine of repentance was not promulgated, be- 
cause the grace of it was not yet to be imparted. The dead 
were not commanded to live, because He had not arrived 
whose voice could penetrate their graves and quicken the 
pulse of immortality. It Is only in connection with the 
kingdom of heaven that the Scriptures ever insist upon re- 
pentance, because it is in that kingdom alone that repentance 
can possibly exist. Had not Jesus appeared, no eye would 
ever have wept a tear, no heart ever heaved a sigh of godly 
sorrow for sin. When we attend to the steps by which Paul 
reaches the conclusion that God now commandetli all men 
everywhere to repent — that the generation of holiness and 
the destruction of sin are the characteristic ends of the Gos- 
pel — the inference is inevitable that his views of repentance 
must have been very different from that Avhich makes it the 

sinner, and the mission of the Spirit through which he is made a partaker 
of Christ is in consequence of that mediation which could effect nothing 
if it did not remove guilt. We mean nothing more in what we have said 
than the absolution in heaven and the imputation of Christ, of wliich 
Owen speaks in his Death of Christ and Vindicine Evangelicpe. See also 
Witsius, Dissert. Ireni. and Halyburton's Inquiry into the Nature of 
Kegeneration, etc. But see particularly chaps, xi. and xii. of Owen on 
the Death of Christ. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 79 

condition of pardon. It will be recollected that the general 
judgment is not presented as a motive to amendment, but 
as a proof that it is commanded. He does not say that men 
ought to repent because they will be judged, but that they 
are commanded to do it. He first collects the command from 
a general judgment in righteousness, and then proves, not 
that there will be a judgment, but that it will be in right- 
eousness, because Jesus has been raised from the dead. The 
sum of his reasoning is briefly this : Men are required to be 
holy, because God will hereafter deal with them upon the 
principle of distributive justice; and that this is the method 
of His government is put beyond doubt by the resurrection 
of His Son from the dead. 

There are two aspects in which this inspired argument is 
inconsistent with the doctrines we have been combatting. 
In the first place, if we are ignorant of the nature of the 
Saviour's mediation, and know not the principles on which 
it contributes to our pardon, it is impossible to detect any 
logical connection betwixt His resurrection and ascension 
and the final judgment of the world in righteousness. If 
we know not what relations to the law He sustained in His 
death, we must be incompetent to perceive how His resur- 
rection secures its supremacy. Paul does not adduce the 
resurrection as a proof of His Divine mission, and through 
it a proof of what He had asserted in regard to the pro- 
ceedings of the last day, but he appeals to it as a fact, which 
in itself contained an infallible assurance from God that the 
world should be judged in righteousness. It is a fact which, 
as soon as it is understood, proclaims this awful truth. 

In the next place, if repentance is the appointed precur- 
sor of pardon, then it is either a principle of natural jus- 
tice that the penitent should be pardoned, or under the 
mediation of Christ the government of God is not one of dis- 
tributive justice. To assert that repentance and pardon are 
connected as antecedent and consequent, under the dispen- 
sation of nature, is to set aside all those arguments by which 
the divines of this school are accustomed to establish the 



80 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

necessity of mediation. To say that under the mediation 
of Christ the government of God is not strictly and prop- 
erly just, is to contradict the Apostle, who affirms a general 
judgment in righteousness, of which this very mediation is 
the clearest and most convincing proof. Henqe, they must 
be either inconsistent with themselves or inconsistent with 
the ajjostle in making it the end of Christianity to put men 
in a capacity of salvation, by dissolving, through the work 
of Christ, the natural connection between guilt and punish- 
ment when a moral change has taken place in ourselves. 

3. There is another class of divines possessing many points 
of resemblance to the one whose opinions we have just been 
considering. They differ, however, in the circumstance that 
they profess to understand the principle on which the effi- 
cacy of what they denominate atonement depends. They are 
unwilling to assert the absolute necessity of the death of 
Christ, not from the modesty which shrinks from the pre- 
sumption of pronouncing with confidence upon what the 
Almighty might or might not do, but from the principle, 
plainly avowed and elaborately defended, that public policy 
is the only necessity to be admitted. Those very considera- 
tions of expediency by which others have been accustomed 
to repel objections, and wdiich are in felt disproportion to the 
importance and magnitude of the event, are received by 
them as a complete explanation of the case. The great 
problem to be solved by the death of the Redeemer was 
the consistency of pardon with the honour of the Divine 
Name, and the dignity of the Divine administration, and 
the general prosperity of the universe. It was a terrible 
tragedy enacted before the eyes of all creatures to display 
the holiness of God and illustrate the transcendent enormity 
of sin. It was intended to give emphasis and depth of 
impression to truths which might have been obscured or 
undervalued if sin had been absolutely pardoned, or par- 
doned upon mere repentance. The divines of this school 
do not hesitate to assert that, according to their scheme, the 
method of salvation involves an inversion of the principles 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 81 

of strict retribution. " Neither Christ nor the sinner" — we 
use the very words of Dr. Wardlaw — " neither Christ nor 
the sinner has his own due. The guilty who, according to 
these principles, should suffer, escapes, and the innocent, who 
should escape, suffers. In no strict and proper sense, then, 
can distributive justice be satisfied by substitution, when its 
demands, instead of being adhered to and fulfilled, are, for 
a special purpose and by an act of Divine sovereignty, sus- 
pended, superseded, overruled." These men, whatever they 
may affirm to the contrary, regard the distinctions betwixt 
right and wrong, not as final and ultimate, but as means to 
an end. The great purpose of God in the government of 
His creatures is the production of the largest amount of 
happiness, and His laws are nothing but the experlients of 
His prudence and wisdom to accomplish the ends of His 
benevolence. When, accordingly, the public good can be 
promoted without these laws, there is nothing in the nature 
of rectitude, the perfections of the Deity, or the relations 
of man to his Creator which prevents them from being 
suspended, superseded or overruled. They are binding be- 
cause they are necessary to the well-being of the universe ; 
and when a larger amount of happiness can be produced 
without them, the same reason which induced the Deity to 
prescribe them induces Him to set them aside. Policy is 
superior to right, or rather right is nothing but policy under 
another name. Experience, however, and the obvious fit- 
ness of things concur to demonstrate that the principles of 
morality are, for the most part, the highest expediency ; that 
truth, justice, benevolence are the surest means of private 
felicity and public prosperity, and that the interests of the 
universe accordingly require that all the Divine ])roceedings 
should be distinguished by the tendency to impress an awful 
sense of them upon the minds of intelligent creatures. 
When, therefore, the Divine administration in any degree 
departs from them, the general result shoidd l)e a stronger 
commendation of them than if they had been faithfully and 
punctiliously observed. Whenever God, in other words, 

Vol. II.— 6 



82 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

breaks His own law, the design should be to make that law 
more sacredly and solemnly impressive upon the minds of 
His subjects. It is seen to be "more honoured in the 
breach than in the observance." 

That we have not misrepresented the theory in question, 
nor the reasoning by which it is supported, however incon- 
sistent that reasoning appears in our account of it, will be 
obvious to any one who will take the trouble to analyze and 
compare the following statements from a work of confessed 
ability : " Distributive, or, as others designate it, retributive 
justice, according to its strict requirements, admits not of 
substitution. It issues a righteous law with a righteous 
sanction. It passes its sentence of condemnation against 
the transgressor of that law. It makes no mention of any 
possible satisfaction but the punishment of the guilty them- 
selves, the endurance by them of the penal sanction in their 
own persons. It is only by the death of the sinner him- 
self that the proper demand of the law can be fulfilled, that 
the principles of distributive justice can have their due ap- 
plication, and that under this aspect of it, consequently, 
justice, can be satisfied. According to the requisition of 
justice in its distributive sense, every man personally must 
have his own due. But in substitution it is otherwise. 
There is an inversion of the principles of strict retribution. 
Neither Christ nor the sinner has his own due. The guilty 
who, according to those principles, should suffer, escapes, and 
the innocent, wdio should escape, suffers. In no strict and 
proper sense, then, can distributive justice be satisfied by 
substitution, when its demands, instead of being adhered to 
and fulfilled, are for a special purpose and by an act of Divine 
sovereignty suspended, superseded, overruled. It is well to 
remark, however, that in another sense it was satisfied, all 
its ends being virtually and to the full effected by other 
means. And this leads me to the true end of atonement. 
It is to public justice, as we have before defined it, that in 
substitution and propitiation the satisfaction is made. The 
grand design is to preserve unsullied the glory of the great 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 83 

principles of eternal rectitude ; to show the impossibility of 
the claims of equity founded in these principles and essen- 
tial to the government of the universe being dispensed with ; 
to settle in the minds of God's intelligent creatures, as the 
subjects of His moral administration, the paramount obli- 
gation and immutable permanence of their claims ; to give 
such a manifestation of the Divine regard to these elements 
of His immaculate administration as to preclude the possi- 
bility of any the remotest surmise that in the pardon of sin 
they have been at all overlooked or placed in abeyance, and 
thus to render it consistent with Divine propriety, or, in 
other words, honourable to the whole character as well as 
to the law and the government of Jehovah, to extend par- 
doning mercy to the guilty, and to reinstate them in His 
favour according to the provisions of the Gospel. It is 
thus that, in so pardoning. His regard to righteousness is as 
conspicuous as His delight in mercy, and, in the minds of 
the pardoned, the impression of the claims of the one as deep 
as that of their obligations to the other. In this view of 
it the scheme possesses a Divine grandeur. The glory of 
God and the good of His universal empire, the two great 
ends of public justice, are with ' all wisdom and prudence' 
admirably combined in it. It is as essential to the latter 
of these ends as it is to the former (they can never indeed be 
separated) that the authority of the Divine government be 
maintained in its awful and inviolable sacredness ; that 
the demands of the law be upheld without one jot or tittle 
of abatement ; that no sin appear as venial ; and that if any 
sinner is pardoned, the mercy shown to the offender be shown 
in such way, on such a ground, through such a medium, as 
shall at once manifest the Divine reprobation of his offences, 
and, at the same time, secure the restitution of the guilty 
j)erpetrator of them to the principles, affections and prac- 
tice of holy allegiance. Such are the purposes and such the 
effects of the Christian atonement."* 

The plain meaning of all this smooth and beautiful decla- 
1 Wardlaw on Atonement, pp. 58-60. 



84 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

mation is, that God may do evil that good may come. He 
may do a thing which confessedly is not just. He may in- 
vert the principles of strict retribution, suspend, supersede, 
overrule the operation of His own law, provided in so doing 
He make His creatures feel the paramount obligation and 
immutable permanence of the claims that are set aside. 
Rectitude is essentially eternal and unchangeable,^ but God 
need not observe it if by occasional departures from its 
rules He can make the universe more scrupulous and punc- 
tilious. The death of Christ was, accordingly, a grand 
expedient by which the Deity in all wisdom and prudence 
has successfully contrived to impress with commanding em- 
phasis the eternal principles of truth and justice upon the 
minds of every other intelligent being, while He Himself, in 
this awful dispensation, confessedly disregards them. Such 
is the theory as expounded by one of its ablest advocates. 

Our business at present is not with the merits of it, but 
simply with the question whether the historian has not fur- 
nished reasons for believing that, wdiether true or false, 
this was not the scheme of atonement which Paul preached 
in the metropolis of Paganism. Paul's gospel is compen- 
diously expressed in Jesus and the resurrection. But so far 
as we can discover, the resurrection is no necessary part of 
the Gospel upon this scheme, which resolves the death of 
Christ into considerations of expediency, and explains its 
efficacy by the moral impression against sin it is suited to 
produce. The two great ends of public justice, we are told 
in the passage just quoted, are the glory of God and the 
good of His universal empire, and these ends, according to 
the patrons of the scheme, are adequately secured by a dis- 
pensation which show^s that God hates while He pardons 
iniquity. All that would seem to be essential, therefore, is 
the sufferings and death of the Redeemer. The resurrection 
is not an element of the work of redemption ; it is simply 
a necessary fact springing from the divinity of the sufferer, 

1 Upon this subject Dr. Wardlaw has expressed himself very strongly, 
both in his Christian Ethics and his work on Atonement. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 85 

and no more conducive to the expiation of our (^ujlt than 
the eating and drinking which pertained to His humanity, 
or the alternations of activity and repose which were insep- 
arable from His sublunary state. As Jesus was God, it was 
certain that He could not be holden of the bands of death. 
He had power to lay down His life. He had power to take 
it up again ; but if we could conceive the possibility of His 
permanent subjection to the dominion of the grave, the im- 
pression, for aught that appears, of the transcendent enor- 
mity of sin, would have been more awful than is likely to 
be produced by temporary suffering followed by unutter- 
able glory. To say that such a doom would have been a 
revolting exhibition of cruelty is either to deny that the 
principle on which His sufferings were inflicted was just, and 
then any degree of them would have been a measure of 
cruelty, or to affirm that there is a point beyond which jus- 
tice cannot push the punishment of sin, and then it ceases 
to be the mighty evil they represent it. Upon any view of 
the case, therefore, the resurrection is an immaterial circum- 
stance in this scheme of redemption. Suffering, the visible 
and palpable endurance of it, this is what is required to the 
manifestation of the righteousness of God — this is what is 
needed for the purpose of salutary impression.' 

It deserves further to be remarked that according to this 
scheme the resurrection of Christ furnishes no proof that 
God will judge the world in righteousness. If by righteous- 
ness we are to understand the principle of distributive jus- 

1 " Meanwhile it is enough to remind you how the idea of manifestaliyn 
is associated with the atonement. There is not only a provision for the 
exercise of the Divine righteousness in man's salvation, but there is the 
declaration of that righteousness. Now, in order to this, there is required 
not suffering merely, but the palpable and visible endurance of it. It 
would not otherwise have the necessary impression and effect. . . . And 
without vain and presumptuous speculations we are, every one of us, sen- 
sible tliat the spectacle of a Saviour </(ms dignified, thus suffering, is enough 
for the purpose of salutary impression— impression deep, solemn, awful, 
of the Divine righteousness, and impression amply and delightfully en- 
couraging of the Divine mercy." — Wardlaw on Atonement, Dis. II., pp. 
45, 46. 



86 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

tice — and such, in all similar connections, seems to be its 
meaning — that, according to this hypothesis, is inverted. 
Neither man nor the Saviour receives his due. If we are 
to understand the Public Justice to which so much import- 
ance is attached, that may be illustrated by the death, but 
we cannot perceive its relation to the resurrect'ioti, of Christ, 
which becomes, upon this hypothesis, a necessary adjunct of 
the person, but no part of the work, of the liedeemer. 

There is another objection to this theory suggested by the 
sermon at Athens, which, if we can make it as clear to our 
readers as it is to ourselves, will, we apprehend, be conclu- 
sive against it. The whole discourse seems to have been 
conducted on the principle that the Gospel is its own wit- 
ness — that the facts of redemption authenticate themselves; 
that we can reason from its phenomena as effects to their 
origin in the mind of God, as we ascend from nature up to 
nature's Cause. Paul has evidently taken it for granted — 
for there is no allusion to any external proofs of the Divine 
mission of Jesus, and no intimation that he himself wrought 
any miracles at Athens — that as the heavens proclaim the 
glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork, so 
the death and resurrection of Jesus, when properly a})pre- 
hended, are their own proofs that He is the power of God 
to salvation to every one that believeth. The work itself 
proves its divinity. That work cannot be acknowledged 
without prompting the confession of Peter, Thou hast the 
words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that Thou 
art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Now there is one 
branch of this a posteriori argument which is absolutely im- 
possible upon the theory of Public Justice. The resurrection 
furnishes no direct proof of the Deity and Sonship of Christ. 
There is nothing in the nature of the sufferings which He 
underwent which requires that the sufferer should be a Di- 
vine Person. As to their amount, for aught that appears, 
they might have been endured by a creature ; aiid as to their 
design, we could not have pronounced beforehand that a 
very solemn and awful display of the holiness of God and 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 87 

the malignity of sin, fitted to inspire with a salutary fear the 
minds of the guilty, might not have been made by one who 
was less than Jehovah's felloAV.* Hence the mere fact that 
He died the death which He died, and triumphed over it in 
His resurrection from the grave, is no necessary proof of 
what Paul affirms it to demonstrate with power — that He 
was the true and proper Son of God. He died — He rose. 
These are the facts. Now, if there be not something in the 
nature of His death which imperatively demanded that the 
sufferer should be Divine, there can be nothing in the nature 
of the resurrection to declare His Deity. If we know be- 
forehand that He was God, we can account for His resur- 
rection upon that hypothesis, but there is nothing in the cir- 
cumstance itself which, independently of any other proofsj 
demonstrates His eternal Sonship as well as His kindred to 
man. It deserves further to be remarked that, according to 
this hypothesis, the connection between the death of Christ 
and the salvation of His people is a matter of arbitrary ap- 
pointment, and the entire efficacy of His Avork is resolved 
into the dignity of His person. In the Epistle to the Corin- 
thians the Apostle teaches us that there is a species of death 
which if any one endures in the name and for the sake of 
others, they shall be acquitted, renewed and sanctified. 
Because we thus judge, says he, that if one died for all, then 
all died. The death of the substitute is, in law and justice, 
the death of the principal; it delivers him from guilt. The 
effect depends not upon the person dying, but upon the na- 
ture and relations of the death itself If any other being 
could have been found who was capable of dying the death 
which Clirist died, the same glorious results would have 
followed. His Deity was essential, not to establish the con- 
nection between His death and the salvation of His people, 
but to create the possibility of the death itself. There was 

1 Dr. Wardlaw admits as much in attempting to prove the necessity 
of Christ's death from the fact tliat He did die, -;hich, no doubt, is very 
sound reasoning from cause to effect, but it cannot be reversed. — P. 14. 
Cf. p. 46. 



05 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

a peculiarity about it which absolutely demanded the strength 
of Omnipotence to undergo it. None but God could have 
shed the blood which Jesus poured out. When it is said 
that the value of Christ's sufferings depends upon His per- 
son, it is not intended that a fictitious importance is to be 
attached to something inherently and essentially worthless, 
in consequence of its association with a Divine being — which 
is the only sense of the terms consistent with the theory of 
Public Justice. The meaning is that they were fully and 
completely the death which the exigencies of the case re- 
quired, and which they could not possibly have been if the 
suiferer had been less than Divine. Redemption is glorious, 
not because God achieves it, but because none but God could 
achieve it. The death of Jesus was glorious, not because it 
was His death, but because it could be the death of no other. 
A creature might as well have undertaken to create as to 
save a world. The work itself demands the interposition 
of God ; and any theory which fails to represent the death 
of Christ as an event which, in its own nature, as clearly 
proclaims His Divinity as His superintending care and 
preservation of all things, cannot be the Gospel which Paul 
preached at Kome, at Corinth, at Athens, and which extorted 
from Thomas, upon beholding the risen Saviour, the memo- 
rable confession. My Lord and my God ! 

4. If the necessity of the Gospel is not founded in the 
ignorance of man, nor the want of a natural connection be- 
tween penitence and pardon, nor the policy of government, 
the question recurs. What is the nature of it and what pecu- 
liarities must distinguish the provisions that are intended to 
relieve it ? It is obvious that Paul, in his recapitulation of 
the great principles of natural religion, designed to produce 
in the minds of his hearers a deep and pungent conviction 
that sin had occasioned an emergency in the government of 
God which rendered salvation, independently of Jesus and 
the resurrection, hopelessly impossible. These very princi- 
ples created the difficulty. They represent God as a just 
judge and a righteous governor; dispensing rewards and 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 89 

punishments according to the rule of distributive justice ; 
dealing with every man according to his works. The first 
great necessity of man, therefore, as a sinner, arises from his 
guilt — an obligation to punishment which, according to the 
eternal principles of rectitude, cannot be set aside. The 
government of the world is not prudential, but moral ; and 
under a strict and proper moral government the wicked can- 
not be received into favour ; they must be punished. There 
can consequently be no hope to a sinner until the problem is 
solved how God can be just ; not simply wise, discreet or 
prudent — this is not the difficulty which a sense of guilt 
presses upon the conscience of a sinner, but how God can be 
just; can maintain the principle upon which His adminis- 
tration is conducted, and yet receive transgressors into favour.' 
There appears to be an impossibility in the pardon of sin 
under the law of nature. This first and paramount neces- 
sity, springing from guilt under a righteous government, it 
is the design of Christianity to relieve. It is accordingly 
an amazing dispensation of Providence and Grace Avhicli 
proposes to reconcile the pardon of the guilty with the 
strictest principles of justice ; which, while it opens a door 
of hope to the guilty and removes the apprehensions which 
conscience awakens in the breast of transgressors, demon- 
strates, at the same time, in the clearest and brightest light, 
that God will judge the world in righteousness by that man 
whom He hath ordained. The more clearly the doctrines 
of natural religion are understood, the more hopeless be- 
comes the condition of a sinner. The imperfect knowledge 
of them which can be gathered from the dictates of our own 
consciousness, the crude and mouldering remains which may 
yet be detected of the law originally written on the heart, 
are enough to arouse our fears and fill the mind witli anxiety 
and suspense as to the possibility of final acceptance upon 
any terms. As the light increases, and revelation pours in 
upon us its discoveries of our former state, of our present 
ruin, of God's immutable holiness and inflexible justice, des- 
pair thickens upon us. Our hearts condemn us, and God is 



90 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

greater than our hearts and knoweth all things. The 
anxious question is wrung from us, " Wherewith shall I 
come before the Lord and boAV before the High God? 
Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves 
of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands 
of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I 
give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my 
body for the sin of my soul?" Now, guilt is only another 
name for a conviction of ill desert. It is the response of the 
human soul to the justice of punishment, and is utterly in- 
dependent, as all human experience testifies, of all calcula- 
tions of expediency. The burden upon the conscience is not 
simply that we shall suffer, for suffering may be a calamity 
as well as a punishment ; not that the interests of the uni- 
verse and the safety of God's throne demand our misery ; 
these are considerations which never enter into the 1)ittcrness 
of remorse. The burden which presses with intolerable 
weight upon the soul is the terrible conviction, wrung from 
the depths of our moral nature, that we have done wrong 
and deserve to die. It is this feeling that we deserve our 
doom which kindles the hell within us. If M^e could strip 
ourselves of the burning consciousness of this fact, no 
amount of evil could ever be regarded in the light of pun- 
ishment. Whatever was inflicted for the general good we 
might nerve ourselves to bear, from lofty considerations of 
benevolence and self-sacrifice ; and to whatever was inevit- 
able we might bow with patience, if not with resignation. 
But energy and resolution avail nothing against a sense of 
guilt ; the feeling of ill desert drinks up the spirits, and 
" conscience makes cowards of us all." This, then, is the 
peculiarity which distinguishes guilt — it is a conviction that 
punishment is due, that it ought to be inflicted, and that 
under a righteous government, sooner or later, it ni'ill be in- 
flicted ; and it is precisely this sense of guilt which the 
truths of natural religion are adapted to produce within us. 
It is the echo of our own hearts to the fearful condemnation 
of a holy God. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 91 

If guilt is the response of the soul to the justice of pun- 
ishment, the only way in which its sting can be extracted is 
by an arrangement which shall make the punishment cease 
to be just, and give the sinner a right to escape from the 
evils which conscience forecasts. By no other conceivable 
method can peace and tranquillity, in conformity with the 
principles of eternal rectitude, be imparted to the mind. 
The source of all its fear is the conviction that it ougld to 
die, and unless a contrary conviction can be produced that 
the same justice which doomed to death now exempts from 
the curse, guilt will continue to agitate the heart with dis- 
mal forebodings which cannot be dismissed as phantoms, 
because they are founded in the very nature of the soul. 
This obligation to punishment, this riyldcousnesa of condem- 
nation, must cease to press, or the need which guilt creates 
cannot be relieved. The sinner feels, in other words, that 
the justice which calls for his blood must be satisfied, or 
t^hat blood be yielded to its demand. It is, accordingly, 
the glory of the Gospel that the blood of Christ who, through 
the eternal Spirit, ofi'ered Himself without spot to God, 
purges the conscience, dispels all its distracting fears, and 
imparts peace and serenity where desi)air and guilt had held 
their troubled reign. Availing itself of a principle which 
in every dispensation of religion has been fundamental in 
the Divine dealings with our race, which belongs to natural 
as well as supernatural religion, and which, in some form 
or other, has always commended itself to the moral judg- 
ments of mankind, it reveals to us a work in consequence 
of which the pardon of sin on the part of God becomes 
not merely a dictate of mercy, but a matter of right. Jesus, 
in the name of His people and as their federal head and 
representative, has endured the curse, and the justice of 
God is now solemnly pledged to Him to exempt them from 
personal subjection to its woes. He has died the deatli of 
the litw, and, upon an obvious principle of justice from the 
relations in which they stand to Him, His death is their 
death. If one died for all, tlien all died. Wc are baptized 



92 THi: NECESSITY AND NATURE 

into His death. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I 
live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. 

No scheme of atonement that fails to represent Christ as 
submitting to the proper penalty of the law which the sins 
of His people had provoked, and in such relations to them 
that His suiferings can be justly charged as their own, can 
be regarded as adapted to the exigencies of guilt It does 
not relieve that condition of the conscience which aj^pre- 
hends punishment as a matter of right. It does not meet 
the prime necessity of the sinner. He is still left guilty,^ 
under obligation to punishment; and if his iniquities are 
pardoned, law and justice are defrauded of their due. 
Hence, if the principles of natural religion are imnuitable, 
there can be no peace to the transgressor until he is placed 
in a position in which it is no longer right to remember his 
offences against him. When God can be just and faithful 
in blotting out his transgressions, then, and not till then, is 
his conscience sprinkled with clean water and purged from 
dead works. Christianity must take away our guilt, or it 
leaves us under the curse of nature. This, we maintain, is 
precisely what the Gospel achieves. The Lamb of God 
bore away our guilt. He became a curse for us, sin for us, 
though He Himself knew no sin, that we might be made 
the righteousness of God in Him. He was wounded for 
our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, the 
chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His 
stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, 
but the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all. It 
is in reference to this aspect of the work of Christ as expiating 
guilt that the eternal covenant which He came to ratify and 
seal is styled The counsel of peace. The kingdom which He 
came to establish consists in joy and peace, and the great 
blessing which He communicates to all who are sprinkled 
with His blood is that peace which passeth all understand- 
ing, and which abides unshaken amid the agitations and 
tumults, the glooms and convulsions of the world. Through 
^ This is admitted by Dr. Wardlaw and divines of the same school. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 93 

Him God becomes the God of peace, the Gospel the mes- 
sage of peace, preachers of righteousness the heralds of 
peace, and the two great results of His work, according to 
the rapturous song of the angels, are glory to God in the 
highest and peace on earth. We see no alternative, but 
an open denial that the Gospel is the religion of a sinner, 
adapted to those moral necessities of his nature which s})ring 
from the immutable principles of natural religion, or a cor- 
dial admission of the fact that Christ by His sufferings and 
death completely satisfied the justice of God in regard to 
the sins of His people. They, through Him, either cease 
to be guilty or they must die ; their consciences are either 
purged by His blood or they have no peace. They are 
still under the law and its curse, or they are delivered from 
its condemnation. It is idle to speak of the ends of pun- 
ishment being answered by anything but punishment itself, 
of costly and imposing expedients by which a salutary im- 
pression is made on the universe, and the righteousness of 
God illustriously displayed and the malignity of sin un- 
folded ; this may be true, but all this does not reach the 
malady within, the plague of the sinner's conscience. That 
is seized by the strong hand of justice, and until its iron 
grasp is relaxed, until right as well as policy ceases to de- 
mand his blood, he cannot be at ease. Hence it is, and 
must be, an indispensable element in anything which de- 
serves the name of atonement that it satisfies the justice of 
God, or lays the foundation of a claim of right to exemp- 
tion from punishment.^ 

But guilt is not the only need a sense of which is awak- 
ened by those truths of nature which Paul proclaimed at 
Athens. To be delivered from guilt is to be put in the 
moral position of the innocent without obstructions to the 

' " Even the commender and publisher of Grotius' Book of ' Satisfac- 
tion,' the learned Vossius himself, affirmcth, that Christ by His death 
purchased for us a double right: First, a ri^lit of escaping punishment, 
and then a right of obtaining the reward."— CH<en's Death of Christ, 
chap. X. 



94 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

free commmiication of Divine flivour, and without a right 
to any good but the exemption from ill,^ Such persons 
might be made alive to God, but they could have no claims 
to His favour, and no security for whatever integrity might 
be graciously imparted. It is only to the just that the con- 
firmed state of blessedness which the Scriptures mean by 
life is inflillibly promised. Obedience to the law, right- 
eousness, is the indispensable condition of God's everlasting 
favour. If, therefore, the scheme of redemption had done 
nothing; more than deliver us from the curse of the law, 
though it would have conferred an incalculable benefit upon 
us, an unutterably great salvation, it would not have done all, 
that the necessities of the case required, to secure the perfec- 
tion and blessedness of our nature. If it had gone so far as 
to remove spiritual death and re-establish the communion 
of the soul with God, the life which it imparted might still 
have been contingent. It might be forfeited by disobe- 
dience ; and in the actual circumstances of our race, sur- 
rounded with temptations, encompassed with infirmities, 
ensnared alike by the world and the Devil, if our first 
father under much greater advantages failed when left to 
himself, it is morally certain that all of us would have come 
short of the glory of God. A contingent life would have 
been a cruel mockery of our hopes. Hence, the Gospel 
proposes not merely to deliver us from the condemnation 

^ " The satisfaction of Christ tends, in all that it is, to the honour and 
reparation of the justice of God. This, then, in its utmost extent and 
efficacy, cannot give ground to build such a right upon. The ultimate 
effect of satisfaction may be accomplished, and yet not the least right to 
any good thing communicated to them for whom this satisfaction is made. 
The good things attending the death of Christ may be referred unto two 
heads, the amotion of evil and the collation of good. For the first, the 
amotion of evil, the taking that from us that it may not grieve us, and 
subducting us from the power and presence thereof, it is immediately 
aimed at by satisfaction. That the curse of the law be not executed, that 
the wrath to come be not poured out, is the utmost reach of the death of 
Christ considered as satisfactory. . . . For positive good things in grace 
and glory, by satisfaction alone, they are not at all respected."— Owen's 
Death of Christ, chap. xi. 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 95 

of sin, to put US into a state in which it is no longer right 
to damn us, but to introduce us into a state in which it is 
right to bless us. It proposes to give us a title to life— a 
title founded on the same eternal principle of rectitude 
which Mould have confirmed Adam in holiness and bliss 
for ever if he had fulfilled the condition of his trial. The 
Gospel, in other words, proposes to justify, and upon the 
broad principle of righteousness to open the kingdom of 
heaven to all believers. This righteousness secures our 
holiness, secures life, because it secures God's flivour and 
gives a right, under the constitution of His own govern- 
ment, to the enjoyment of Him as the supreme portion of 
the soul. They Avho are justified must be glorified. The 
very end of justification is to take away the contingency of 
holiness. If Adam had maintained his integrity during 
the term of his probation, his justification would have im- 
parted to him no element of character which he did not 
previously possess — the image of God was not half drawn 
upon him ; but it would have put him in a state in which he 
could never lose his holiness nor be exposed to the risk of 
condemnation. And so the justification of a sinner intro- 
duces him into a state in which he can no more be left to 
the dominion of sin and the possibility of the curee than 
Christ can lose His glory or God be unfaithful to His 
promises and oath. " For whom He did foreknow He also 
did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, 
that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 
moreover, whom He did predestinate them He also called, 
and whom He called them He also justified, and whom He 
justified them He also glorified." 

Such, we apprehend, is the substance of that doctrine which 
Paul preached in his first open conflict with Paganism. The 
religion he proclaimed was pre-eminently that of a sinner — 
adapted, in all its provisions, to the spiritual necessities of a 
fallen being under the righteous government of God. The 
altars around him were dumb, yet pregnant, witnesses that 
the wants which the Gospel undertook to relieve were not 



96 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

the fictions of fancy nor the creatures of superstition, but the 
urgent demands of the soul. Under the imperfect light of 
heathenism there were still cases in which conscience asserted 
its supremacy, and summoned the guilty to the tribunal of 
the unknown God. The uncertainty which invested the 
doctrine of a future life was suited to quicken the appre- 
hensions of guilt, while the utter darkness, into which the 
spirit seemed to retire, invited a disturbed imagination to 
people its shades with ministers of vengeance and execu- 
tioners of justice. Amid all the ignorance of God and 
vagueness of conjecture which pertained to the condition of 
a thoughtful Pagan, the terrible impression would cleave to 
him that he was under a curse. It would haunt his dreams 
like the ghost of the murdered, embitter his waking hours, 
turn life itself into a burden, and make him long, yet dread, 
to die. He might endeavour to lay the flattering unction 
to his soul that the great TJnknown in whose hands he was, 
and to whom he was resjDonsible, was good and kind, and 
would be tender to his infirmities and failures; but the 
scenes of wretchedness around hiin, the frightful ravages of 
disease, pestilence and death ; the stern and relentless judg- 
ments which scourge entire generations and in their pro- 
gress sweep away nations ; the cry of weeping, lamentation 
and woe which bursts from the smitten bosoms of the whole 
family of man ; the portentous fact, written in blazing cha- 
racters around him, stamped upon the cheek of the dying, 
the brow of the living, and even upon inanimate nature 
itself, that God has a controversy with men, and that though 
He is good He yet deals out to the trembling tribes of earth 
the vials of a fierce indignation, — considerations like these 
would thicken the blackness with which conscience had 
covered the future, and shroud the soul in the deepest night 
of despair. If the siren voice of hope should attempt to 
whisper that there yet might be peace, the monitor of God 
within would proclaim, in tones of thunder, There is no peace 
to the wicked. If there should still be an eifort to prop the 
sinking spirit upon the mercy of its Author, Nature would 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 97 

cry aloud from her thousand chambers of suffering and an- 
guish, Woe, woe, w^oe to the inhabitants of earth ! Where 
could comfort be found ? Where could peace be sought, ex- 
cept in that desperate hardihood of spirit which would sternly 
banish thought, and, like the beasts that perish, catch only 
the passing moment as it flies ? And what is the religion 
which such a sinner, grappling with despair, burdened with 
life and afraid to die, — what is the religion which the neces- 
sities of his soul demand ? Is it more of light in relation to 
God, His law. His justice and the stern retributions of 
eternity, when what he knows already presses on his con- 
science like a night-mare, and peoples the land of darkness 
with all that is awful in mysterious power, with all that is 
dreadful in insulted justice? Ah, no ! He needs not light, 
but life — not philosophy and science, not new discoveries in 
heaven and earth, but a Saviour — a Saviour m'Iio can pluck 
him from the wrath to come, arrest the avenger of blood, 
seize the sword of justice, put it up into its scabbard, bid it 
rest and be still. The glory of Christianity is its Saviour, 
and His power to save is in the blood by which he extin- 
guislied the fires of the curse, and the righteousness by which 
He bought life for all His followers. Jesus made our curse, 
Jesus made our righteousness, this, this is the Gospel ! 
All else is philosophy and vain deceit. This it is which 
gives Christianity its power. By this, and this alone, it sub- 
dues the ferocity of passion, disarms temptation of its vio- 
lence, disrobes the world of its charms, changes the tiger 
into the lamb, and makes the lion eat straw like the ox. 
This constitutes the grand difference between the religion of 
Mohammed and the religion of Jesus, between the Koran and 
the Bible. 

Upon this scheme, and this scheme alone, as it seems to us, 
the preaching of Paul at Athens can be reduced to consist- 
ency and method. It accounts for the importance which 
he attached to the doctrines of nature. He would actpiaint 
the patient with his malady before he explained the cliaracter 
and application of the remedy, especially wIumi it \\'as lilcely 
Vol. II.— 7 



98 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

to be sought just in the degree in which it was felt to be 
needed. 

In the next place, it makes the resurrection an integral 
part of Christianity. That resurrection was the justification 
of Jesus as the Head of the Church, the discharge of the 
prisoner upon the satisfaction of the debt, as well as the pas- 
sage of our great High Priest into the holiest of all. If 
Christ had remained under the power of death, the curse of 
the law could not have been removed from us ; we should 
have died in our sins. He was delivered for our offences, 
and was raised again for our justification. ' 

Upon this view we may add, further, that the resurrection 
of Christ becomes what Paul affirms it to be, a signal proof 
of His eternal Sonship, if by His eternal Sonship we un- 
derstand that spirit of holiness according to which He is 
truly and properly God. None but Jehovah's fellow could 
have received the stroke of Jehovah's justice in His bosom 
and survived the blow. The penalty of the law was no 
vulgar ill, to be appeased by a few groans and tears, by 
agony, sweat and blood. It was the ■^^Tath of the infinite 
God, which, when it falls upon a creature, crushes him under 
the burden of eternal death. It is a blackness of darknesg 
through which no ray of light or hope can ever penetrate 
the soul of a finite being ; to all such it must be the blackness 
of darkness for ever. But Jesus endured it, Jesus satisfied 
it, Jesus bowed beneath that death which the law demanded, 
and which sinks angels and men to everlasting ruin, and 
came victorious from the conflict. If He had been a crea- 
ture, He would have been crushed, sunk, lost ; if He had 
been less than God, the bitterness of death could not have 
been passed ; never, never could He have emerged from that 
thick darkness into which He entered when He made His soul 
an offering for sin. The morning of the third day — and 
a more glorious morn never dawned upon our earth — for 
ever settled, to all who understood the event, the Deity 
of Jesus. It was the crisis of all human hope. "When our 
great Substitute had given up the ghost for us and descended 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 99 

into hell, the j)ossibility of His return to us depended on 
His ability to meet the infinite wrath of the Infinite God. 
AVhen the terrific cup was administered and He drank it and 
died, His slumbers in Joseph's tomb could never have been 
broken unless He could thunder with a voice like God, and 
bear the burden of infinite woe. The third day, which pro- 
claimed His triumph, declared Him to be the Son of God 
with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by His resur- 
rection from the dead. He had died a death which none 
could die but one who was Almighty. 

But Paul teaches us that the resurrection is not only a 
proof of the Deity of Christ, but a proof, at the same time, 
that God will judge the world in righteousness by that Man 
whom He hath ordained ; that His government, in other 
words, is conducted on the principle of distributive justice. 
This is an obvious inference from that representation of 
Christianity which makes the sufferings of Jesus a full and 
perfect satisfaction of the penalty of the law, and His life 
of spotless obedience the ground to all claim of everlasting 
bliss. No other scheme harmonizes the salvation of a sin- 
ner with the immutable principles of natural religion. This 
is its characteristic excellence ; it rears the fabric of grace, 
not upon the ruins, but the fulfilment, of the law. God is 
never seen to be more gloriously just, nor the law more 
awfully sacred, than when He spared not His own Son, but 
delivered Him up for us all. The impression which this 
event makes is indeed solemn, awful, sublime. It was a 
wonder in heaven, a terror in hell, and is the grand instru- 
ment through which the rebellion of earth is subdued and 
tlie stout-hearted made to melt at the remembrance of sin. 
Upon the cross it is written in characters of blood that none 
can ever be pardoned who have not died, in their substitute, 
the death of the law — that none can ever be admitted into 
heaven who cannot present that obedience to which life is 
promised. Justice has its full demands upon the represen- 
tative of the sinner, while grace abounds to the sinner him- 
self. It may be said, however, that the admission of a sub- 



100 THE NECESSITY AND NATURE 

stitute is itself a compromise of the strictness of justice. 
Without entering into the abstract question, it is sufficient 
for our present purpose to observe that God never contem- 
plated any other justification of our race than through the 
obedience of a federal head. This was the fundamental 
principle of the covenant which contains the substance of 
natural religion. If Adam had stood, we should all have 
been justified by his obedience ; as having fallen, we sinned 
in him, and fell with him in his first transgression. No 
promise of life has ever been made to man upon any other 
basis than that of imputed righteousness. It is nature's 
method, as well as the method of grace, and as natural 
law is admitted to be just, there is no concession nor com- 
promise of the eternal principles of right in laying upon 
Christ the iniquities of us all. 

From the exposition given of this noble monument of 
eloquence which inspiration has transmitted to us, it may be 
seen what constitutes the essence of the Gospel. It is Jesus 
and the resurrection — Jesus dying for our sins and raised 
again for our justification. Where these elements are want- 
ing, whatever else may be found, there is no Christianity. 
A penal death and a perfect righteousness imputed, the one 
for pardon and the other for acceptance — these are things 
which make the Gospel glad tidings of great joy. To deny 
these is to deny Christ. 

We may here see also that the most successful method of 
preaching is that which aims at thorough and radical con- 
victions of sin. The law must be applied with power to the 
conscience, or the preciousness of grace will be very inade- 
quately known. The superficial piety of the present day is 
owing, in a large degree, to feeble impressions of the malig- 
nity of sin. That complete breaking up of the fallow 
ground of the heart, that groaning under bondage, that 
deep sense of weakness and nothingness, which character- 
ized the experience of the past generation, are unsuite<l 
to the haste and bustle of this stirring age. The transi- 
tion from absolute indifference to cordial reliance upon 



OF CHRISTIANITY. 101 

Christ must now be made in an instant. One gush of 
sorrow, one leap of joy, and the work must be done. 
Such converts can know little of the law, little of Christ, 
and less of themselves. Men must be soundly iiistrp.oted 
by Moses if they would know the sweetness of the liberty 
in Christ. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



In 1840, Dr. Thornwell undertook to issue at Columbia a series of 
tracts on the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, being impressed with 
the conviction that the errors opposed to those doctrines were then " prop- 
agated with an industry and zeal worthy of a better cause." One of the 
series was Traill's " Vindication of the Protestant Doctrine of Justifica- 
tion, and of its Preachers and Professors, from the unjust charge of Anti- 
nomianism," published first in 1692 — to which he added an appendix, 
which appears in this collection. 

Another of this series was the following discussion, from his own pen, 
of the Doctrines of Election and Eeprobation. He was at that time about 
twenty-eight years old. His treatment of these subjects is vigorous and 
thorough, although it may not have the majestic sweep of his later pro- 
ductions. It manifests, however, very strikingly his critical acumen and 
sound judgment in expounding Scripture — talents which he undoubtedly 
possessed in an extraordinary degi'ee. His subsequent studies not leading 
him to any special cultivation of these powers, his possession of them was 

not generally known. 

103 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 



WHATSOEVER the Scriptures contain was designed 
by the Holy Spirit for our careful study and devout 
meditation, and we are required to search them habitually 
and prayerfully, since they contain the " words of eternal 
life." The doctrines of the Bible cannot prove hurtful 
unless they are perverted by ignorance or wrested by abuse. 
In examining, however, the more mysterious features of 
revealed truth, there are two extremes widely different, but 
perhaps equally dangerous, into which there is hazard of 
running — presumptuous curiosity on the one hand, and 
squeamish timidity on the other. Men of inquisitive and 
speculative minds are apt to forget that there are limits set 
to human investigation and research, beyond which it is 
impossible to pass with safety or satisfaction. To intrude 
with confidence into the unrevealed secrets of God's wisdom 
and purpose manifests an arrogance and haughtiness of 
intellect which cannot fail to incur the marked disapproba- 
tion of Heaven, and should always meet the prompt repro- 
bation of the pious. Whatsoever is useful to be known 
God has kindly and graciously revealed, and it argues no 
less ingratitude than presumption to attempt to be "wise 
above what is written." Theology has already sufifcred 
greatly from the pride of hmnan intellect. Men, anxious 
to know more than God has thought proper to communi- 
cate, or secretly dissatisfied with the form in which state- 
ments of Divine truth are made in the Bible, have recurred 
to philosophy and science to improve or to explain the doc- 



105 



106 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

trines of revelation. Sometimes the Scriptures stop too 
short, and then metaphysics and logic must be called in to 
trace their disclosures to the secret recesses of the Eternal 
mind. Sometimes the Scriptures and philosophy, " falsely 
so called," come into collision, and then the former must 
go through an exegetical transformation, so as to wear the 
sha]3e which the latter would impress on them. All this is 
a wide departure from that simplicity of faith with which 
the Word of God should always be received. " All Scrip- 
ture is given by inspiration of God," and to quarrel with 
it, or to attempt to push our investigations beyond it, is 
just to quarrel with the wisdom and goodness of the Deity 
Himself. It is tacitly charging the Holy Sjiirit with keep- 
ing back from men what it is important to their happiness 
to know. A deep conviction of the fullness and sufficiency 
of the Scriptures, combined with a hearty regard for their 
disclosures, is the only effectual check to this presumptuous 
pride of intellect. 

But while some thus madly attempt to overleap the bound- 
aries which God has set to their knowledge, others, through 
excessive caution, are afraid to know what the Lord has 
actually revealed. This squeamish timidity is no less dis- 
honouring to God, as it supposes that He has communicated 
some truths, in a moment of unlucky forgetfulness, which 
it would have been better to conceal, and flatly and palpa- 
bly contradicts the assertion of Paul that all Scripture is 
" profitable." If we suffer ourselves to be deterred from a 
fearless exposition of Divine truth by the cavils and per- 
versions of profane minds, we may just surrender all that 
constitutes the Gospel a peculiar system, and make up our 
minds to be content with the flimsy disclosures of Deism 
or the cheerless darkness of Atheism. The doctrines of the 
Trinity, of the incarnation of the Son, of the covenants, of 
imputation, etc., are all made the scoff of the impudent and 
the jest of the vain. Paul's doctrines were perverted to 
unholy purposes by the false apostles, but all their defama- 
tion and reproach could not make Paul ashamed of the 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 107 

truth, nor afraid to preach it. " One hoof of Divine truth," 
says the venerable Erskine, " is not to be kept back, though 
a whole reprobate world should break their necks on it." 
" The Scripture," says Calvin, " is the school of the Holy 
Spirit, in which, as nothing useful or necessary to be known 
is omitted, so nothing is taught which it is not beneficial to 
know." While, then, a presumptuous curiosity, on the one 
hand, may not be allowed to carry us beyond the Scriptures, 
let not a sickly timidity, on the other, induce us to fall 
below them. " Let the Christian man," as Calvin again 
says, "open his heart and his ears to all the discourses 
addressed to him by God, only with this moderation, that 
as soon as the Lord closes His sacred mouth he also shall 
desist from further inquiry. This will be the best barrier 
of sobriety, if in learning we not only follow the leadings 
of God, but as soon as He ceases to teach we give up our 
desire of learning. It is a celebrated observation of Solo- 
mon, ' that it is the glory of God to conceal a thing.' But 
as both piety and common sense suggest that this is not to 
be understood generally of everything, we must seek for the 
proper distinction, lest we content ourselves with brutish 
ignorance under the pretext of modesty and sobriety. 
Now, this distinction is clearly expressed in a few words by 
Moses : ' The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, 
but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to 
our children, that we may do all the words of this law.' 
Deut. xxix. 29. For we see how he enforces on the peo- 
ple attention to the doctrine of the law, only by the celes- 
tial decree, because it pleased God to promulgate it; and 
restrains the same people within those limits with this sin- 
gle reason, that it is not lawful for mortals to intrude into 
the secrets of God." 

These preliminaiy remarks will not be taken ami.ss by 
any who are even tolerably acquainted with the state of 
opinion in the theological world on the great doctrine of 
predestination. Instead of attending to the Scriptures as 
a rule of infallible truth, and receiving the instructions 



108 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

derived from them with implicit faith, we find some men 
boldly scrutinizing those secrets of infinite wisdom which 
God has concealed in Himself; while others of less adven- 
turous dispositions seem to be filled with apprehension 
lest the Holy Spirit has spoken indiscreetly and inculcated 
absolutely what should be received, only with cautions and 
limitations. We readily assent to the proposition in words, 
but the unsanctified heart makes no small opposition to it, 
that the Word of God is truth, and that we are bound to 
receive all that it contains on the authority of its Author, 
independently of all other considerations. We are neither 
to question nor to doubt, but simply to interpret and be- 
lieve. Philosojihy and prejudice and everything else are to 
yield to the voice of God speaking in His Word. It is 
owing to a neglect of this simple but obvious principle that 
views so contradictory have been held and published of the 
doctrine of predestination, and the necessary consequence 
of such inconsistency of oj)inion has been to involve the 
discussion of the subject in no little difiiculty and perplex- 
ity. In maintaining the true doctrines of the Bible, as set 
forth in orthodox standards, we have not only to encounter 
the violent, unmitigated opposition of Pelagians and Armin- 
ians, but the no less unwarrantable excesses of the Supra- 
lapsarians and Hopkinsians. While the former explain 
the decrees of God in such a way as to amount to a down- 
right denial of their certainty and sovereignty, the latter 
have pushed their inquiries with a censurable boldness 
into the hidden things which belong only to the Lord, and 
in their explanations of what is actually revealed have 
departed widely from the simplicity of the Bible. The 
Westminster Confession of Faith has happily avoided both 
these extremes of squeamish timidity and presumptuous 
boldness, and has exhibited, with its usual clearness and 
precision, the true doctrine of the Scriptures. The limits 
of a single tract will not allow me to enter into the broad 
and extensive field of the Divine decrees generally, and 
therefore I shall confine myself to the single feature of this 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 109 

great subject presented in the inseparable doctrines of Elec- 
tion and Reprobation. The fixing of the eternal destiny 
of men and angels is but a single link in the golden chain 
of " God's eternal purpose, by which, according to tlie coun- 
sel of His own will, He freely and unchangeably ordains 
whatsoever comes to pass." In the discussion of this sub- 
ject I shall first endeavour to state clearly what the doc- 
trines of Election and Reprobation are, as set forth in the 
Standards of the Presbyterian Church. I shall next attempt 
to vindicate these doctrines by a candid reference to the 
Word of God. I shall, in the third place, refute the cavils 
of those who reject them, and conclude the whole with a 
few practical inferences. 

I. From the account given in the third chapter of the 
Confession of Faith we deduce the following propositions, 
M^hich will be recognized at once as a correct statement of 
orthodox views: 1. Election is personal. "By the decree 
of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and 
angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others 
foreordained to everlasting death. These men and angels 
thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and 
unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and 
definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished." 
Sec. 3, 4. Hence, it is not an election of nations and com- 
munities to external privileges, but of men " particularly 
and unchangeably designed," and that to everlasting life, 
as we shall soon see more fully. 2. Man, in the decree of 
Election, is regarded as a fallen being. " Wherefore, they 
who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by 
Christ," etc. Sec. 6. That this is the settled opinion of 
the orthodox will appear yet more clearly from tlio decision 
of the Synod of Dort on this very point : " Election is the 
unchangeable purpose of God by which, before the founda- 
tion of the world. He did from the Avhole human race, fdlen 
by their oivn fault from original righteousness into a state of 
sin and misery, elect to salvation in Christ, according to the 
good pleasure of His own will, out of His mere free grace, 



110 ELECTION AND EEPROBATION. 

a certain number of individuals, neither better than others 
nor more worthy of His favour, but involved with others 
in a common ruin."^ This was likewise the opinion of 
Calvin and Turrettin and the leading divines of the Seces- 
sion Church of Scotland, such as the Erskines and Fisher 
and Boston. 3. It is an election to everlasting life, and 
includes all the means which the Scriptures lay down for 
accomplishing this glorious end. " As God has appointed 
the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most 
free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means there- 
unto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in 
Adam, are redeemed by Christ ; are effectually called unto 
faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season ; are 
justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through 
faith unto salvation." Sec. 6. 4. This election of individuals 
of Adam's fallen race to everlasting life was made from eter- 
nity. In proof of this there needs no appeal to any particular 
portion of the chapter, for it is either definitely stated or 
clearly implied from the first section to the last. 5. It is 
absolute or wholly irrespective of works, having no other 
originating or impulsive cause than the mere good pleasure 
of God's will. " Those of mankind that are predestinated 
unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, 
according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the 
secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in 
Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace 
and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or 
perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the 
creature, as conditions or causes moving Him thereunto; 
and all to the praise of His glorious grace." Sec. 5. In 
regard to Reprobation, the Confession teaches the following 
particulars: 1. The individuals reprobated are guilty and 
polluted, "being by nature the children of wrath." This 
follows from the fact that the reprobate, equally with the 
elect, "are fallen in Adam;" and in Section 7th, God is 
said to " pass by and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath 
^ Article vii. 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. HI 

for their sin." 2. God passes them by or refuses to elect 
them, and leaves them in that state of misery and ruin into 
which, by their own fault, they had plunged themselves. 3. 
He dooms them to the deserved punishment of their sins in 
the world to come by a righteous act of vindicatory justice. 
4. In the decree of reprobation God acts absolutely. He 
passes by one and elects another only from His own good 
pleasure ; but in inflicting and pronouncing the sentence of 
death, He acts as a righteous Judge in consigning the wicked 
to deserved punishment. In other words, none but a sinner 
can be a suitable subject of reprobation, and men are repro- 
bated only as sinners ; but one man is passed by and another 
elected, not because one was a greater sinner than the other, 
but because God saw fit to do so. All these points are em- 
braced in Section 7. "The rest of mankind God was 
pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, 
whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, 
for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to 
pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their 
sin, to the praise of His glorious justice." 

Of this tremendous doctrine, therefore, which has been 
the prolific subject of so much vituperation and abuse — which 
has supplied a theme of ranting declamation to many a strip- 
ling theologian, who, when all other subjects filled him, 
could fill out his allotted time and entertain his hearers by 
running a tilt against Calvin's ghost — which has made the 
knees of many a strong man shake and blanched the cheek 
of many an ignorant zealot with terror, — of this tremendous, 
this "horrible" doctrine, wdiich has been rei^resented as so 
revolting to every thing like reason. Scripture or common 
sense, this then is the sum: Man, having by wilful and 
deliberate transgression sinned against God, justly fell under 
His wrath and curse. All men, regularly descended from 
Adam, became " children of wrath, alienated from tlie life 
of God," and utterly destitute of original righteousness. 
The consequence was that sentence of condemnation actually 
passed upon all men. Unless we are prepared to (piestion 



112 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

or impugn the stainless justice of God, we must admit that 
this sentence, thus solemnly passed upon the race, was a 
righteous sentence. Out of this race of guilty and polluted 
sinners, thus justly condemned, God graciously and eternally 
elected some to life and happiness and glory, while He left the 
rest in their state of wretchedness and ruin, and determined 
to inflict upon them the punishment which they justly 
deserved. The reason why He elected some and passed by 
others, when all were equally undeserving, is to be referred 
wholly to Himself — to the counsel of His own will or to 
His mere good pleasure. 

I have been thus particular in deducing a plain statement 
of this doctrine from the Standards of the Church, because it 
is so difficult to meet with any fair or consistent account of 
it from writers who oppose it. They indulge too freely in 
the merest caricatures, or deduce their whole views from dis- 
located and disjointed expressions of Calvin! stic divines. It 
M^ould be no hard matter to show, by quotations from Calvin 
and Turrettin and the published Confessions of the Reformed 
Churches, that the statement just given is a fair exposition 
of the views which have usually been regarded as orthodox 
from the period of the Reformation until now. That there 
have been men who have overleaped the bounds of sobriety 
and modesty, and have consequently lost themselves in the 
mists of Supralapsarian and Hopkinsian error, need not and 
will not be denied ; but then their excesses are no more to 
be regarded as the genuine doctrines of Calvinistic churches 
than the wild speculations of Clarke on the Sonship of Clirist 
and the omniscience of God as the genuine doctrines of the 
Wesleyan Methodists. In ascertaining the doctrines of a 
Church, we must appeal to her standards ; and having done 
so in this instance, and given, in the words of the Confession, 
the precise position of the Presbyterian Church, I proceed to 
show that her views are scriptural. 

II. Widely as men may differ in their views of predesti- 
nation, it is generally conceded by all who profess any rever- 
ence for the Word of God that there is an election, of some 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 113 

sort, to eternal life made known in the Scriptures. But 
there is much violent and bitter opposition to that account 
of it which j^laces a crown of absolute sovereignty on the 
head of Jehovah, and prostrates man in entire de[)endence 
upon His will. In deducing the scriptural argument, I 
shall endeavour to arrange the texts under the several heads, 
or rather upon the separate points, made out in the explana- 
tion or statement of the doctrine from the Confession of 
Faith. 

1. First, then, election is i^ersonal; that is, it is a choice 
of individuals, from the corrupt mass of our fallen race, to 
everlasting life. I am far from intending to insinuate that 
in every instance in which words expressive of election are 
used in the Scriptures a personal election to eternal life must 
of course be understood. On the contrary, it is freely ad- 
mitted that the Scriptures speak of the choice of nations to 
peculiar privileges, of the choice of individuals to particular 
offices, and of the choice of Christ to the mediatorial work. 
All this is fully conceded, but yet there are passages which 
cannot, wdthout unwarrantable violence, be interpreted in 
any other way than as teaching the doctrine of personal 
election to eternal life. " According as He hath chosen us 
in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should 
be holy and without blame before Him in love." Eph. i. 4. 
Here election is expressly said to be personal — " hath chosen 
us," that is, Paul himself and the Christians at Ephesus, 
The epistle is directed to " the saints which are at Ephesus, 
and the faithful in Christ Jesus." i. 1. Here then is not 
an election of nations or communities to external privileges, 
but an election of individuals to everlasting life. In verses 
5, 6, 7, 11 we have a more particular view of the blessing 
which they received in consequence of their election, and 
which cannot, by any ingenuity of criticism, be plausibly 
distorted into national advantages. " Having predestinated 
us unto the adoption of children by JTesus Christ, to Him- 
self," etc. ; and again, " In whom we have redemption 
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to tli- 
Vol. II.— 8 



114 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

riches of His grace." Those, therefore, to whom Paul was 
writing were "saiuts, faithful in Christ Jesus, adopted to 
be sons, redeemed and forgiven," and all these privileges 
he traced to the election of which he was speaking. Are 
there any so blind as not to see that these are saving bless- 
ings, and that those who were addressed as possessing them 
were indlolduaU and not communities or nations ? But it 
lias been said that Paul could not know that the whole 
Church at Ephesus were elect. To this it may be readily 
replied that Paul does not say so. He sufficiently desig- 
nates the individuals of whom 'he was speaking by the 
characteristics noticed above. Macknight, always anxious to 
fritter away the peculiar features of the Gospel, tells us in 
his note on the fourth verse tliat the election here spoken 
of is "that election which before tlie foundation of the 
world God made of holy persons of all nations to be His 
children and people, and to enjoy the blessing promised to 
such." Upon this singular note it is enough for my pres- 
ent purpose to remark — (1.) That it sufficiently admits the 
fact that the election here spoken of is personal. But (2.) 
that it was not, however, an election of " holy persons," 
but an election to be holy, " that we might be holy and 
without blame before Him in love." (3.) That these Ephe- 
sians, previously to their acceptance of the Gospel, were 
" dead in trespasses and sins, walked according to the prince 
of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the 
children of disobedience," etc. ii. 1-3. They could not 
possibly, therefore, have been elected as "holy persons," 
seeing that they were utterly destitute of all pretensions to 
holiness. 

I might here refer to the cases of Ishmael and Isaac and of 
Esau and Jacob adduced by the Apostle in the ninth chapter 
of Pomans as examples, respectively, of personal election and 
righteous reprobation. These cases are conclusive on the 
point. The attempts of Socinian and Arminian writers to 
pervert that celebrated chapter from its natural and obvious 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 115 

meaning will be considered sufficiently in another part of 
this discussion. 

2. The second point to be proved is, that man in the 
decree of election was regarded as a fallen bemg. Three 
opinions have been maintained by divines as to the light in 
which he was looked upon in this decree. The first is that 
of the Supralapsarians ; the second, that of our Standards ; 
and the third, that of the Arrainians and Remonstrants at 
the Synod of Dort. The Supralapsarians take their name 
from the fact that in the decree of election and reprobation 
they suppose that God regarded man not even as yet created, 
or only as created and not as fallen. They, consequently, 
look upon the creation and fall as only intermediate steps 
through which man was to pass in accomplishing this great 
decree. To this scheme there are insuperable objections — 
(1.) The very ideas of election and reprobation suppose 
man to be involved already in a state of sin and misery. 
While in a state of holiness in their covenant head all 
men were regarded as equally righteous, and equally shared 
in their Maker's approbation. The fall, therefore, must 
take place before such a distinction could be made as this 
doctrine supposes ; I mean that God in the counsels of 
eternity must have looked upon man as lost and ruined, 
since otherwise a determination to save some, and to leave 
others in their wretchedness and ruin, could not be expressed 
without a " solecism in language," and much less " conceived 
without confusion of thought." The very idea of salvation 
implies misery, and a determination to save implies a view 
or knowledge of that misery. It is plain, then, that sin 
and misery, in the individuals elected and reprobated, is an 
indispensable prerequisite. It might be objected here that 
in the case of the angels who stood election did not sup- 
pose a fall ; but I would answer that the cases are not par- 
allel. It was not a decree to save the angels from sin, but 
from sinning, and therefore they could be regarded only as 
liable to fall. But in the case immediately before us there 
is a decree to save men from a state of guilt and ruiu, and 



116 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

yet they are not involved in guilt and ruin ! (2.) If it be 
maintained that man is not even regarded as created, we 
are thrown into still more perplexing absurdity. It is hard 
to conceive how a being not yet created can become the 
subject of such a decree at all. The decree of creation must 
be first in order of nature, or election and reprobation will 
be concerned not about men, but nonentities. (3.) What is 
said of this doctrine in the Scriptures is usually referred to 
the mercy and justice of God. The elect are monuments 
erected to the " praise of the glory of His grace," and the 
reprobate are "vessels of wrath," or of righteous and just 
displeasure ; but how this could be said Avhen man had not 
yet become obnoxious to God's justice, nor had yet been in 
a situation of wretchedness to require His mercy, it is 
hard to conceive. Sin is that alone which renders man a 
proper object of reprobation, and misery is the proper 
object of mercy. For these reasons — and many others 
might be adduced — I am led to regard the Supralapsarian 
scheme as untenable and false. The whole current of 
Scripture testimony is in favour of the doctrine of our 
Standards, commonly called Sublapsarianism. " I have 
chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth 
you." John xv. 19. The elect here are the objects of the 
Divine choice while belonging to the Avorld, and the world 
means corrupt and fallen man, as is plain from its hating 
the righteous and godly. We are said to be " chosen in 
Christ" — that is, to be redeemed and saved by Him — which 
implies that when chosen we are guilty and polluted. 
Again : " Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the 
same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another 
unto dishonour?" Rom. ix. 21. That the lump here rep- 
resents corrupt and ruined human nature is plain from the 
following considerations which I translate from Turrettin : 
"1. It is the lump from which vessels of mercy and wrath 
are formed — one for honour, the other for dishonour, but 
wrath and mercy necessarily suppose sin and misery. 2. It 
is the same lumjD from which Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 117 

and Esau are taken, who are brought forward, respectively, 
as examples of gratuitous election and of righteous and 
free reprobation. This must be the corrupt mass of human 
nature, because the Apostle speaks of Jacob and Esau as 
twins conceived in the womb, and therefore as sinners." 
It is no valid objection that the children are represented as 
having done neither good nor evil, for this is manifestly to 
be understood comparatively. Jacob had done no good and 
Esau no evil which caused the one to be preferred and the 
other rejected. It was not Jacob's being better than Esau, 
nor Esau's being worse than Jacob, whicli induced God to 
elect the one and reject the other. 

The " vessels of wrath" (Rom. ix. 23) are represented as 
being " fitted for destruction" during the time that (rod 
bears with them in great patience and long-suffering, which 
seems to be inconsistent with the idea that they could have 
been " vessels of wTath" before they yet became " fitted for 
destruction" by sin and depravity. But, probably, the most 
pointed and remarkable passage on this subject is Ezek. 
xvi. 6 : " But when I passed by thee, and saw thee pol- 
luted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast 
in thy blood. Live ; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in 
thy blood. Live." Here the elect, of whom Jerusalem was 
a symbol, are represented bj^ the figure of a filthy and out- 
cast infant, finding from none either sympathy or aid, but 
so loathsome in its person as to be abandoned in the " open 
field" the very cla}^ on which it was born. Verses 4, 5. 
The Lord represents Himself as looking upon this wretched 
infant thus polluted in its blood with an eye of compassion, 
and commanding it to " live." Ver. 6. Effectual calling 
cannot be intended by the word " live" here, because in 
effectual calling the soul is married to Christ, but in tliis 
passage the elect are represented as not yet of a marriage- 
able age. Therefore the word must denote only God's xnir- 
pose to save, and the passage thus interpreted slunvs conclu- 
sively in what light the elect are regarded in the decree of 
election. This interpretation will probably be confirmed by 



118 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

considering this verse in connection with the two following. 
In verse 7, God describes the growth of this miserable 
infant until it became a marriageable woman. " 1 have 
caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field ; thou hast 
increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent 
ornaments ; thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is 
grown, w'hereas thou wast naked and bare." The infant, 
having thus become a young woman and of marriageable 
age, the marriage or the union of the elect with Christ in 
effectual calling is celebrated in verse 8 : " Now Avhen I 
passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time was 
the time of love, and I spread my skirt over thee, and cov- 
ered thy nakedness ; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered 
into a covenant with thee, saitli the Lord God, and thou 
becamest mine." Here, then, we have much the same view 
of the inseparable connection between election and vocation 
which Paul gives us in the 8th of Romans, and here it is 
clearly demonstrated that men are elected in that state from 
which they are called, which is a state of sin, condemnation 
and misery. The views of the Arminians, who suppose 
that man is regarded as believing or unbelieving in the 
decree of election and reprobation, will be refuted in another 
part of this discussion. 

3. It is an election to everlasting life or salvation. " But 
we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, breth- 
ren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the begin- 
ning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the 
Spirit and belief of the truth." 2 Thess. ii. 13. " For God 
hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by 
our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. v. 9. In both these texts 
the word salvation is probably used in reference to the state 
of glory beyond the grave. The first text is peculiarly 
forcible. The Apostle had been giving a graphic and appall- 
ing account of the revelation of the "man of sin," through 
whose seductive influence many souls would be led to reject 
the truth and be given over to judicial blindness, and finally 
be damned. Such statements as these were well calculated to 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 119 

alarm the faithful, esi^ecially weak believers. The Apostlf 
therefore shows in the text cited that there is no ground of 
apprehension to the real children of God ; they are chosen 
to salvation, and therefore cannot come short of it. In 
order that the Thessalonian Christians might be able to 
receive the comfort of this truth, that the elect are abso- 
lutely safe, he points out the marks of election or the evi- 
dences of it — " sanctification oi" the Spirit and belief of the 
truth." The second text is equally clear. The Apostle is 
exhorting the Thessalonians to a diligent discharge of Chris- 
tian duty. He had urged the unexpectedness of the Lord's 
coming as one motive, and presents another in the text 1 
have quoted, and that is the certainty of success. Tiu; 
Lord has destined us to salvation ; we can therefore dis- 
charge our Christian duties in confidence and hope. The 
election of God is a sufficient security against disappoint- 
ment. The word salvation, however, is not always used in 
this sense when applied to the elect. In fact, it is a word 
of extensive signification, including in the language of 
Scripture what we commonly mean by grace and glory. 
Many of the absurd consequences which have been rashly 
and intemperately charged upon the doctrine of election 
would vanish at once before a correct apprehension of the 
true nature of eternal life. It is a common but erroneous 
opinion that the ha]i]iiness of heaven is tliat alone which 
the Scriptures designate by this phrase, and those who enter- 
tain this error generally have crude conceptions of what 
constitutes the blessedness of glory. A slight acquaintance 
with the Bible, however, will show us that all believers 
even in this world are in actual and irreversible possession 
of eternal life. " My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, 
and I give unto them eternal life.'' "He that hath the 
Son hath life:' That life which is implanted in the soul 
in regeneration, which is developed in sanctification and 
completed in glory, is what the Scriptures call eternal life-, 
and it is called eternal because l)y the grace of God it is 
absolutely imperishable. There are not wanting passages 



120 ELECTION AND flEPROBATION. 

of Scripture in which the word life is used in its full lati- 
tude of meaning : " I am the living bread which came 
down from heaven ; if any man eat of this bread he shall 
live for ever." John vi. 51, 57. 

The scriptural meaning of salvation is deliverance from 
the curse, power and love of sin. The word in general 
implies deliverance from evil, but it is always, in the Bible, 
positive as well as negative, and imports the bestowment of 
a corresponding good. The blind, when healed by our 
Saviour, are said to be saved — that is, they are delivered 
from the evil of blindness, and receive the corresponding 
blessing of sight. So sinners are said to be saved by Christ, 
because through "the faith of Him" they are delivered 
from the evils of their natural state, and receive the bless- 
ings of a gracious state. Were it possible that a man who 
had obtained the forgiveness of sin should afterw^ard fail 
of the blessedne&s of heaven, there is no assignable sense in 
which it could be said that he was saved. If there be any 
difference in the spiritual import of the words salvation and 
life, it would seem to be this, that the former has a more 
pointed reference to the evils from which we are delivered 
by grace, and the latter to the benefits of which we become 
partakers. It is true that these words are not always used 
in their fullest latitude, but are sometimes confined to one 
and sometimes to another feature of the general meaning. 
This, however, is a strong j^roof of the inseparable connec- 
tion between grace and glory. In accordance with these 
remarks it may be observed — (1.) That salvation implies 
pardon and gratuitous acceptance. Luke i, 77: "To give 
knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission 
of their sins." The original is, " in the remission of their 
sins" — that is, when our sins are pardoned we become par- 
takers of salvation. Luke xix. 9 : " This day is salvation 
(•(mie to this house." Whatever else the word may mean 
here, pardon of sin must be one of the blessings which Jesus 
conferred on Zaccharus. The curse of the law is what the 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 121 

Scriptures mean by the " wrath to come," and uo one can 
doubt that deliverance from this forms an important cle- 
ment of salvation. But we are delivered from the curse 
and covenant claims of the law in our gratuitous justifica- 
tion and pardon. (2.) Salvation implies regeneration and 
progressive sanctification, or the production and development 
of the new nature. Titus iii. 5 : " Not by works of right- 
eousness Avhich ^^'e have done, but according to His mercy, 
He saved us by the washing of regeneration and the 
renewing of the Holy Ghost." Here the washing or 
cleansing of regeneration, which is explained to be the 
renewing of the Holy Ghost, is in so many words stated to 
be an element of salvation. Jesus received His name by 
the express and solemn appointment of God, because He 
should " save His people from their sins." The spiritual 
life which the Holy Spirit communicates in regeneration, 
and fosters and strengthens in sanctification, is of the same 
nature, though different in degree and the circumstances of 
its exercise, with the life of glory at God's right hand. The 
one is represented as an earnest of the other, and an earnest 
must be of the same kind with that of which it is an earnest. 
If, then, eternal blessedness is a part of our salvation, tlie 
new nature here necessarily must be. All, therefore, who 
are elected to salvation are elected to sanctification in the 
full scriptural extent of that word. Hence, the Apostle says 
that we are chosen, " that we might be holy and without 
blame before Him in love." Eph. i. 4. Hence, the Thessa- 
lonians are said to be " chosen to salvation through sancti- 
fication of the Spirit and belief of the truth ;" and hence, it 
is said, " We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus 
unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we 
should walk in them." Eph. ii. 10. (3.) Salvation implies 
the blessedness of heaven. This is such a common and 
familiar use of the term that we need not waste time in 
adducing texts. 

From this short examination of the scriptural meaning 
of two words in very common use, we have seen that the 



122 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

Standards of the Church have adhered closely to the Word 
of God in resolving election to salvation into election to all 
the privileges of redemption in this world as ^vell as the 
world to come. Salvation is one great whole, and Avherever 
it begins to exist it takes hold upon eternity. The blessed- 
ness of heaven is the result of election ; so is personal holi- 
ness on earth — the grand preparative for glory ; so is faith in 
the Lord Jesus — the great shield by which sin and Satan are 
effectually subdued. It would be a monstrous conception 
to suppose that men were elected to salvation, and yet not 
elected to a certain employment of the means by which 
alone salvation is secured. The Scriptures shqw conclu- 
sively — (1.) That effectual calling is the fruit of election. 
2 Tim. i. 9 : " Who hath saved us, and called us with an 
holy calling, not according to our works, but according to 
His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ 
Jesus before the world began." Kom. viii. 30 : " More- 
over, whom He did predestinate them He also called." 
(2.) As a matter of course, faith is the fruit of election. 
Eph. ii. 8: It is called the "gift of God." Phil. i. 29: 
" Unto you it is given to believe on Christ." Col. ii. 12 : 
"Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen 
with Him through the faith of the operation of God who 
hath raised Him from the dead." Heb. xii. 2 : Jesus is 
regarded as " the Author and Finisher of our faith." 1 Cor. 
xii. 9 : " To another, faith by the same Sj^irit," and saving 
faith is spoken of distinctively as the faith of " God's elect." 
(3.) But perhaps the most conclusive scriptural authoritv 
that all the blessings of redemption are included in election 
to eternal life is to be found in Romans viii. 29, 30 : " For 
whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be con- 
formed to the image of His Son, that he might be the first- 
born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did pre- 
destinate, them He also called, and whom He called, them 
He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also glo- 
rified." In these verses we have — 1st, the election of God 
or His determination to save a chosen number : " AVhom 



ELECTION AND EEPEOBATION. 123 

He did foreknow." The couiiection of this verse with the 
preceding, and of this clause with the succeeding;, sufficiently 
determines the meaning of the word " foreknow." Those 
who are said to be called in verse 29 are called accordinji; 
to God's " purpose/' and in this verse their calling is 
coupled with God's foreknowledge. To foreknow, there- 
fore, is to purpose or determine, or, what in this connection 
is just the same, to choose. This is a common and familiar 
meaning of the word. Horn. ii. 2 ; 1 Pet. i. 20. 2dly. -We 
have the purpose of God to render them holy : " He also 
did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son," 
etc. Those whom He elected He determined to sanctify, to 
make holy even as Christ was holy. 3dly. We have the 
steps of the actual accomplishment of this decree : " Whom 
He did predestinate, them He also called ;" that is, by the 
word of the Gospel, and the efficacious operation of the 
Spirit, He brings them into saving union with Christ, that 
so they may be conformed to His image. This is the com- 
mon and familiar acceptation of the word in the writings 
of Paul. 1 Cor. i. 9, 24, etc. 4thly. We have the justifi- 
cation and final and complete salvation of those who were 
foreknown: "Whom He called, them He also justified, and 
whom He justified, them He also glorified." Being united 
to Christ in their effectual calling, they become partakers 
of His righteousness and grace, by which their justification, 
sanctification and glorification are infallibly secured. From 
this celebrated passage we see that " election, calling, justi- 
fication and salvation are indissolubly united." 

4. Election to everlasting life or salvation is eternal. 
Whatsoever purposes God now has, or ever will have, in 
regard to the destiny of men, He always has had. It Avould 
be a serious and dangerous detraction from the glory of the 
Divine unchangeableness to suppose that exigencies can 
arise in the government of the world calling for a change 
of the Divine purposes, or for a new and unexpected course 
of Providence. " Known unto God are all His works from 
the beginning of the world." Acts xv. 18. His all-seeing 



124 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. ' 

eye brings all possible events within the light of a present 
and infallible omniscience. What He is now He was from 
all eternity, and will continnc to be the same everlastingly. 
Succession of time can only be applied to Him in accom- 
modation to our weak capacities, since all things past and 
future are " naked and opened to the eyes of Him with 
whom we have to do." But while, owang to the simplicity 
and eternity of the Divine nature, there cannot be con- 
cei-^d in God a succession of time, nor consequently various 
and successive decrees, yet we may justly speak of His 
decrees as prior or posterior in point of nature. Though 
they all constitute but one eternal act of the Divine will, 
the objects about which they are concerned are connected 
with each other by various relations, and the decrees them- 
selves may be spoken of in a language accommodated to 
these diversified relations. In ordinary life we often see 
effects and causes coexistent in point of time, yet since a 
cause is prior to an effect in the order of nature, we usually 
speak of it as prior in point of time. Upon the same prin- 
ciple w^e speak of God's decrees in language borrowed from 
the relations which the objects of the decrees sustain to each 
other, though to His mind all things are "naked" and 
present. Hence, all the decrees of God are absolutely eter- 
nal, but the Scriptures speak of the eternity of election with 
marked and pointed emphasis : " According as He hath 
chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world," etc. 
Eph. i. 4, " According to His own purpose and grace which 
was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 
2 Tim. i. 9. " Known unto God are all His works from the 
beginning of the world." Acts xv. 18. 

5. The next point in the statement is the sovereignty of 
election, and here we enter upon that peculiar view of the 
doctrine which renders it so unpalatable to the carnal heart. 
There is, in all unrenewed minds, a scarcely acknowledged but 
secretly felt persuasion that God can be conciliated or brought 
under obligations to be propitious by their own legal perform- 
ances. Men are unwilling to admit that their case is hope- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 125 

less without the intervention of sovereign mercy ; tlioy will 
not believe until persuaded to it by the Holy Spirit that 
they neither do nor can have any claims upon God, that 
they are just " vessels of wrath fitted for destruction," in 
themselves considered, and that the only ground of Divine 
favour is in the Divine Being Himself. But all our leo-al 
bias and propensities must be carefully dismissed while we 
attend with impartial ears to the testimony of Inspiration. 
What say the Scriptures ? for ^vhatever they say must bo 
the truth. But before entering directly upon the Scripture 
testimony, it may be well to give a brief view of the senti- 
ments of the Arminians, who, as Turrettin too justly 
remarks, "recall Popery and Pelagiauism by the back 
door." They suspend the decree of personal election upon 
a foresight of faith and perseverance in holiness, and resolve 
both of these, in great measure, into a good use of the sin- 
ner's free will. " They make," says Turrettin, " the decree 
of election twofold : the first is general, being God's purpose 
to save all believers ; the second is special, being His purpose 
to save such and such individuals who. He foresaw, M'oidd 
believe. The first they resolve entirely into the will of 
God ; the second, though founded in the Divine will, attiichcs 
so much importance to faith as to make it the reason why 
one is elected and another not." The question between us 
and the Arminians respects simply the cause of election in 
the Divine mind — whether the decree is wholly uncondi- 
tional, depending upon the mere good pleasure of God's 
will, or whether it is suspended upon a foresight of fiiith 
and perseverance in the creature. We do not deny that the 
decree of election includes the instrumentality of means in 
its accomplishment, and that faith and good works are indis- 
pensably necessary to its execution or fulfilment, but we do 
deny that faith, perseverance, good works, or any other thing 
in the creature, was the cause or reason why God elected one 
and passed by another; and we confidently appeal to the 
Scriptures of eternal truth to bear us out in our positions. 
(1.) Faith is uniformly represented in the Bible as the 



126 ELECTION AND REPROBATION, 

fruit or effect of election, and therefore cannot possibly be 
the cause of it. This point has already been fully estab- 
lished in the previous discussion of the nature of eternal 
life or salvation. It was there shown that a decree to save 
must mean a decree to bestow all the blessings of redemp- 
tion, from the implantation of a new nature in regeneration 
to its full development in a state of glory. Having, then, 
already anticipated this point, I shall now dismiss it with 
only a few additional texts : " As many as were ordained 
to eternal life believed." Acts xiii. 48. It is the merest 
quibbling to interpret the ordination here of a disposition 
to believe, and it would probably puzzle those who do so to 
tell us whence the disj^osition arose. The word generally 
means " ordained or apjjointed," and accordingly these indi- 
viduals are said to have believed because they were appointed 
to salvation. This is the natural and obvious meaning of 
the passage. ■ " All that the Father giveth me shall come 
to me." John vi. 37. To come to Christ means to believe 
on Him, and faith is in this passage attributed by the 
Saviour Himself to election. Others did not believe 
because they were not of Christ's sheep ; those who do 
believe must trace their faith to the sovereign goodness of 
God. The passage teaches us, moreover, that all who are 
given to Christ certainly shall believe, thus evidently 
throwing election farther back than faith. The truth then 
plainly is, that election is the cause of faith, and not faith 
of election. 

(2.) This scheme, which suspends election upon foreseen 
faith and perseverance, amounts to a downright denial of 
the doctrine altogether, or, if there be any choice in the case 
at all, it is the sinner choosing God, and not God the sinner. 
Arminians represent faith and perseverance as prescribed 
conditions of salvation. The man, therefore, who complies 
with the conditions obtains the blessing promised upon a 
principle very different from that of election. It is an abuse 
of language to say that an individual under these circum- 
stances is chosen to receive the blessing. The executive of 



ELECTI(3N AND REPHOBATION. 127 

the country issues a proclamation in wliich he offers a great 
reward to any individual who shall apprehend a notorious 
malefactor fleeing from justice. Some citizens do appre- 
hend him and claim the reward. Is there any propriety in 
saying that they were elected to the reward? Nor would 
it affect the principle involved in the case at all to suppose 
that the executive knew beforehand precisely what indi- 
viduals would apprehend the* criminal. The Arminians, 
therefore, charge the Apostles and our Saviour Himself with 
an outrageous abuse and perversion of language when they 
represent them as using plain and familiar words in an 
acceptation which they cannot bear. There is much weight 
in the following remark of Turrettin : " If election depend 
upon foreseen faith, God cannot elect man, but man chooses 
God, and so predestination should rather be called post- 
destination — the first cause becomes the second, and God 
becomes dependent upon man, which is false and contrary 
to the nature of things, and Christ Himself testifies, 'ye 
have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.'" John xv. 16. 

(3.) The Scriptures in so many words refer the cause of 
election to the sovereign pleasure of God, independently of 
any considerations derived from the creature. Eph. i. 5, 11 : 
" Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by 
Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of 
His will; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, 
being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who 
worketh all things after the counsel of His own loilV^ 2 Tim. 
i. 9 : " Who hath saved us and called us with an holy call- 
ing, not according to our works, but according to His own 
purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus 
before the world began." Titus iii. 5 : " Not by works of 
righteousness which we have done, but according to His 
mercy He saved us," etc. These Scriptures require no com- 
ment; they are so plain and unambiguous that he who 
runs may read. 

But the ninth chapter of tlie Epistle to the Romans is in 
a great measure a professed exposition of the absolute sove- 



128 ELECTION AND EEPROBATION. 

reignty of God in selecting the objects of His favour. 
Pelagians and Arminians have laboured diligently but 
unsuccessfully to neutralize tlie testimony of the Apostle in 
that chapter, and they have been somewhat encouraged by 
the partial concurrence of a few Calvinistic commentators 
in their views. They maintain that the Apostle is not 
speaking of a personal election to eternal life, but merely of 
a national election to external privileges — not of Jacob and 
Esau as individuals, but of their respective descendants as 
communities or nations. This interpretation rests princi- 
pally upon the quotations from the Old Testament which 
Paul applies to the discussion, aud upon a gratuitous assump- 
tion that Esau did not serve Jacob. The first passage of 
any great importance in the discussion is talvcn from Gene- 
sis XXV. 23 : " Two nations are within thy womb, and the 
one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the 
elder shall serve the younger." Macknight, in his second 
note on Romans ix. 11, remarks: "The Apostle, according 
to his manner, cites only a few words of the passage on 
which his argument is founded, but I have inserted the 
whole in the commentary, to show that Jacob and Esau are 
not spoken of as individuals, but as representing the two 
nations springing from them — ' Two nations are in thy 
womb,' etc. — and that the election of which the Apostle 
speaks is not an election of Jacob to eternal life, but of his 
posterity to be the visible Church and people of God on 
earth, and heirs of the promises in their first and literal 
meaning, agreeably to what Moses declared. Dent. vii. 6, 
7, 8, and Paul preached, Acts. xiii. 17. That this is the 
election here spoken of appears from the following circum- 
stances : 1. It is neither said, nor is it true of Jacob and Esau 
personally, that the elder served the younger. This is only 
true of their posterity. 2. Though Esau had served Jacob 
personally, and had been inferior to him in worldly great- 
ness, it would have been no proof at all of Jacob's election 
to eternal life, nor of Esau's reprobation. As little was the 
subjection of the Edomites to the Israelites in David's days 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 129 

a proof of the election and reprobation of their prot>;enitors. 
3. The apostle's professed purpose in this discourse being to 
show that an election being bestowed on Jacob's posterity 
by God's free gift might either be taken from them, or 
others might be admitted to share therein with them, it is 
evidently not an election to eternal life, which is never taken 
away, but an election to external privileges only. 4. This 
being an election of the whole posterity of Jacob, and a 
reprobation of the whole descendants of Esau, it can only 
mean that the nation which was to spring from Esau should 
be subdued by the nation which was to spring from Jacob, 
and that it should not, like the nation springing from Jacob, 
be the Church and people of God, nor be entitled to the 
possession of Canaan, nor give birth to the Seed in whom 
all the families of the earth were to be blessed. 5. The 
circumstance of Esau's being older than Jacob was very 
properly taken notice of, to show that Jacob's election was 
contrary to the right of primogeniture, because this circum- 
stance proved it to be from pure favour. But if his elec- 
tion had been to eternal life, the circumstance of his age 
ought not to have been mentioned, because it had no rela- 
tion to that matter whatever." The next leading passage 
which Paul quotes is taken from Exodus xxxiii. 19 : "And 
He said I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and 
I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and will 
be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy 
to whom I will show mercy." " Here," says Macknight, 
" mercy is not an eternal pardon granted to individuals, but 
the receiving of a nation into favour after being displeased 
with it ; for these words were sjsoken to Moses after God 
had laid aside His purpose of consuming tlie Israelites for 
their sin in making and worshipping the golden calf" " It 
is a notorious fact," says Bishop Sumner,' "though often 
overlooked in argument, that the very passage, ' I \\ill have 
mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have com- 
passion on whom I will have compassion,' which is almost 
1 Apostolic Preaching, p. 36. 
Vol. II.— 9 



130 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

the only support claimed from St. Paul to the system of 
absolute decrees, is quoted from Exodus, autl forms the 
assurance revealed by God Himself to Moses that He had 
separated the Hebrew nation from all the people on the face 
of the earth." The next quotation is from Exodus ix. 16 : 
" And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to 
show in thee mv power, and that my name may be declared 
throughout all the earth. In reference to this, Macknight 
observes : " Though Pharaoh alone was spoken to, it is evi- 
dent that this and everything else spoken to him in the affair 
of the plague was designed for the Egyptian nation in gene- 
ral, as we learn from Exodus iv. 22 : * Say unto Pharaoh, 
thus saith the Lord,' Israel is my son, even my first-born/ 
23 : ' And I say unto thee, let my son go that he may 
serve me, and if thou refusest to let him go, behold I will 
slay thy son, even thy first-born.' For, as Israel here signi- 
fies the nation of the Israelites, so Pharaoh signifies the na- 
tion of the Egyptians, and Pharaoh's son, even his first-born, 
is the first-born of Pharaoh and of the Egyptians. In like 
manner, Exodus ix. 15: 'I will stretch out my hand that 
I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou 
shalt be cut oflP from the earth ;' that is, thou and thy peo- 
ple shall be cut off, for the pestilence was to fall on the peo- 
ple as well as on Pharaoh. Then follow the words quoted 
by the apostle, verse 16: 'And in very deed,' etc. Now, 
as no person can suppose that the power of God was to be 
shown in the destruction of Pharaoh singly, but in the 
destruction of him and his people, this that was spoken to 
Pharaoh was spoken to him and to the nation of which he 
was the head." 

I have thus given above, and mostly in the words of 
Macknight, the very marrow and pith of the Arminian 
argument. The notes which I have quoted contain the 
sum and substance of the more expanded observations of 
Sumner and Adam Clarke, who have laboured in the per- 
version of this celebrated chapter with a diligence and zeal 
worthy of a better cause. It will be seen at once that the 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 131 

principle upon wliich their reasoning proceeds Is wholly 
gratuitous and false. They settle what they suppose to be 
the meaning of a passage in the Old Testament, and then 
determine that it cannot be used in any other sense in the 
New. Let the principle be tested by a reference to Matt, 
ii. 15, where Jaseph is said to have departed into Egypt, 
*' that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord 
by the prophet saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." 
This last clause is clearly a quotation from Hosoa xi. 1, 
where it has a manifest allusion to the children of Israel as 
a people or nation : " When Israel was a child then I loved 
him, and called my son out of Egypt^" Upon the princi- 
ple of interpretation on which Macknight proceeds the 1 5th 
verse of the second chapter of Matthew cannot refer to the 
Lord Jesus Christ, because the passage in Hosea will not bear 
that meaning ; but every one sees from the context that it 
must and does refer to Christ, no matter what may be the 
meaning of the original passage in the Prophet, And so, 
if the scope and drift of the Epistle to the Romans shoAV 
that Paul is discussing the question of a personal election 
to eternal life, no matter what may be the meaning of the 
original passages in Genesis and Exodus, the Apostle applies 
them to the subject before him. It is true that where an 
appeal is made to the Old Testament to confinn a truth 
delivered by an Evangelist or an Apostle, the words cannot 
be accommodated, but must be quoted in their original sense ; 
but it is equally true that the language of the Old Testa- 
ment is often used by the writers of the Xew, just as we 
use the language of writers who have gone before us in 
the way of illustration and ornament. In such cases we 
may warrantably employ the language in a sense different 
from that in which it was originally used. It is certainly 
incumbent upon the Arminians therefore to show not only 
that the original passages quoted by Paul have reference to 
nations and not to individuals, but also to show that Paul has 
actually applied the passages in the identical sense of Moses. 
Their point is not gained by proving the first proposition with- 



132 ELECTION AND EEPROBATIOX, 

out also proving the last. Besides all this, they must show 
that these passages are not referred to as containing unde- 
niable proofs of a principle which was suited to the point in 
hand. So far from attempting to show this, Arminian com- 
mentators universally concede that God is sovereiLfn in the 
distribution of national privileges; in other words, they admit 
the principle that God does distribute some blessings with- 
out respect to the character or works of individuals. May 
not Paul have been quoting the passages from the Old Testa- 
ment merely because they teach this principle so peculiarly 
appropriate to the subject in hand ? May not his reasoning 
have been something like this ? — " We see that there is no 
injustice in God's bestowing peculiar blessings on some and 
rejecting others, because from His word that appears to be a 
principle of His government — a well-settled and established 
principle. He declares that He is not influenced by the 
merit of individuals, but by His own will. If this prin- 
ciple extend to the distribution of favours upon earth, there 
is no reason why it should not extend to the bestowment of 
eternal blessings. There are the same objections to the 
principle in the one case as in the other ; and yet if God 
declares that He does act upon it in the one case, we infer 
from His unchangeablencss that He must act upon it in the 
other. The difficulty lies, not against the character of the 
blessings bestowed, but against the sovereign nature of the 
choice." I can easily conceive that Paul might have applied 
the quotations from the Old Testament to the case of per- 
sonal election, merely because they contain the principle, and 
the whole principle, upon which personal election depends. 
It is obvious, then, that even upon the supposition that the 
passages from Genesis and Exodus are correctly interpreted, 
it is not proved that Paul is not speaking in the ninth of 
Romans of personal election to eternal life. The point 
which Paul has in hand must be gathered, not from the 
writings of Moses, but from the scope and design of his 
own Epistle, and it only shoAvs how hardly pressed the 
Arminians are when they overlook one of the simplest and 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 133 

most obvious rules of interpretation in order to avoid the 
truths which Paul so clearly teaches. 

[1.] I am not prepared, however, to admit, though I 
believe Arminians would gain nothing by the admission, 
that the passages in the Old Testament refer exclusively to 
nations. On the contrary, I think that they manifestly teach 
a distinction between individuals as the ground of the dis- 
tinction between nations. A careful examination of Genesis 
XXV. 23 will put this matter beyond all reasonable doubt. 
Rebecca, while pregnant, and probably somewhat adv^anced 
in pregnancy, seems to have felt a strange and unusual agita- 
tion in her womb, arising from the violent conflict of the 
twins, and, perplexed with a very natural anxiety, she con- 
sulted the Lord for instruction and relief. It is obvious 
that the contest of the brothers in the womb was altogetlier 
an extraordinary event, and was the certain presage of tlie 
future animosity which should distract and divide their 
descendants. The distinction between the nations, then, 
seems to have commenced in the womb. The answer of the 
Lord to Rebecca is decisive on this point : " Two nations 
are within thy womb;" that is, the children which are in 
thy womb shall become each the father of a nation. " And 
two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels ; " 
that is, two distinct and separate nations shall spring from 
the twins. Now, here the separation is said to take place 
from Rebecca's " bowels ; " that is, from the children which 
were then in her womb. This teaches as plainly as language 
can teach that the distinction between the Edomites and 
Israelites supposed a previous distinction between Jacob and 
Esau as individuals. This again is confirmed by the unam- 
biguous and pointed testimony of Malachi, who represents 
(iod's love to the Israelites as originating with God's love 
to Jacob as an individual. Besides, it is common in the 
Scriptures to trace the grace of God toward the Jews to His 
love for their fathers : " as touching the election, they are 
beloved for their fathers' sake." Rom. xi. 25. There is no 
violence, therefore, in applying this passage of Genesis to a 



134 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

distinction between Jacob and Esau as individuals; for it 
docs teach such a distinction, and it is in this sense alone 
that Pavil has quoted it : " For the children, being not yet 
born/' etc. v. 11. Here is nothing about nations, but chil- 
dren. But we are tokl that Esau never did serve Jacob, 
and therefore the passage cannot possibly apply to them as 
individuals. It may be answered that Jacob did obtain the 
birth-right, Avhich was the blessing promised, and that Esau 
did upon several occasions acknowledge his inferiority to 
his brother. This was the spirit of the prophecy in regard 
to the individuals, though it had a fuller accomplishment in 
their respective descendants. But it is contended that if the 
prophecy did have a reference to the brothers as individuals, 
it would not follow that the distinction was that one was 
elected to eternal life, and the other rej^robated and left to 
the sentence of eternal death. But if Paul is speaking of 
the brothers as individuals, it Avill follow that the ninth chap- 
ter of Romans has no reference to an election of nations' to 
external privileges; it will overthrow the Arminian if it 
does not establish the Calvinistic interpretation. There are, 
however, good reasons for sup^wsing that the birth-right was 
a type of spiritual blessings, as Canaan was a type of a hea- 
venly country. Many of the events and pers<^)nages of the 
Old Testament are certainly typical, and the Jewish people 
were constantly taught sj)i ritual truths in the strong, impres- 
sive language of types. When we consider how little per- 
sonal advantage Jacob gained in this world from obtaining 
the birth-right, it is natural to suppose that God's promise 
had reference to other and higher blessings. In fact, the 
election of the Jewish j)eople themselves was a standing 
symbol of another and a nobler election. All the prominent 
transactions of God in reference to Canaan shadow forth the 
spiritual principles by Avhich His Church is regulated and 
governed. The Exodus from Egypt, the Paschal Lamb, 
the journeyings in the wilderness, the crossing of Jordan, 
the settlement in Canaan and the expulsion of the Canaan- 
ites and surrounding tribes, are all typical of solemn and 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 135 

important spiritual events connected with the redemption of 
sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothin<>- unrea- 
sonable, therefore, in supposing that Jacob, under the type 
of the birth-right, did receive the gratuitous promise of eter- 
nal life, and that Esau was passed by and rejected. This 
certainly is the sense, as we shall presently see more fully, 
in which Paul quotes the passage, " the elder shall serve the 
younger." Macknight's third argument, in the first note 
quoted, is a mere begging of the question. He takes for 
granted what the Apostle's express design is, and then argues, 
from his own gratuitous assumption, against personal election 
to eternal life. The same is true of his fourth. In regard 
to the fifth, it may be remarked that the age of Jacob is 
mentioned to show how entirely free the election was — how 
completely independent of all considerations derived from 
the creature. 

As to the passage in Exodus xxxiii. 19, it is wholly gra- 
tuitous to suppose that this was spoken in refei-ence exclu- 
sively to the Jewish people. It is true that God spake these 
words after He had laid aside His purpose of consuming 
Israel for their idolatry, but this does not prove that the 
truth obtains only in ])articular circumstances. The imme- 
diate occasion of the words was the request of an individual. 
Moses said unto the Lord, " I beseech Thee, show me Thy 
glory." The 19th verse, which seems to be an answer to 
Moses' request, is a statement of the character of God con- 
sidered in Himself: "I will make all my goodness pass 
before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before 
thee." This cannot mean God's goodness to Israel, but the 
goodness of the Divine character generally. It is not spoken 
to the nation, but to an individual, and that in answer to a 
particular request. The words are to be taken in their 
general sense, then, as expressive of Divine attributes. In 
fact, the whole verse is designed to state a proposition in 
reo-ard to God which is always and universally true — that 
God is good and sovereign. God was showing IMoses the 
"back parts" of His "glory," and it is all forced interpre- 



136 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

tation to confine the declarations to a particular form of the 
Divine goodness, as Macknight and Bishop Sumner have 
done. This is limiting what God has left absolute. There 
is no foundation for Sumner's remark, that this verse forms 
" the assurance revealed by God Himself to Moses that He 
had separated the Hebrew nation from all the people on the 
face of the earth ; " for there is not a syllable about such a 
separation in the passage itself or in the immediate context. 
The next quotation from Exodus (ix. 16) affords just as 
little ground for a national interpretation. It is manifest 
that the words themselves regard Pharaoh only as an indi- 
vidual : " And in very deed for this cause have I raised 
thee up for to show in thee my power," etc. It was Pharaoh's 
heart that was hardened, and the destruction of the Egyp- 
tians is represented as a punishment to Pharaoh himself. It 
was Pharaoh alone that could let Israel go, and Pharaoh is 
answerable for keeping them in bondage. Pharaoh is 
rejected from no national privileges ; he is brought forward 
as a gross and flagitious sinner, stiffening his neck against 
God and setting at naught His authority. The whole trans- 
action has not the remotest tendency to show that God 
(ilected Israel and passed by Egypt. God did not design to 
illustrate this principle in His dealings with Pharaoh, but 
to show tlis power and justice in casting down the proud 
and pvuiishing the guilty ; and for this purpos* the case of 
this monarch is frequently alluded to in the sacred writings. 
True, Pharaoh was the head of his nation, and his guilt 
seriously affected his subjects ; but how does this prove that 
God deals with him only as the representative of his people ? 
The private sins of kings and emperors at the present day 
often involve their respective nations in sufferings and war, 
and yet their sins are personal and individual. Upon the 
Nvhole, then, a correct view of the passages in the Old Testa- 
ment does not bind us to believe that they have any neces- 
sary reference to the dealings of God with nations in respect 
to external privileges. Some necessarily apply to individuals, 
and all may be safely Interpreted of them. The only possi- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 137 

ble foundation, therefore, on which a national interpretation 
of this chapter can rest is, to say the least, precarious and 
doubtful. 

[2.] But should it be admitted that an election to tiie 
blessings or privileges of the external theocracy is all that 
is meant, the difficulty is by no means removed. " A choice," 
as Professor Hodge justly remarks, " to the blessings of the 
theocracy, that is, of a knowledge and worship of the true 
God, involved in a multitude of cases, at least, a choice to 
eternal life, as a choice to the means is a choice to the end. 
And it is only so far as these advantages were a means to 
this end that their value was worth considering." And 
again : '' Is there any more objection to God's choosing men 
to a great than a small blessing on the ground of His own 
good pleasure ? The foundation of the objection is not the 
character of the blessings we are chosen to inherit, but the 
sovereign nature of the choice. Of course it is not met by 
making these blessings greater or less." 

[3.] The whole scope of the Epistle goes to show that the 
Apostle is not speaking of a choice to external privileges. 
The first eight chapters are occupied in the doctrinal discus- 
sion of justification — the guilt and depravity which it sup- 
poses in our race, and the glorious blessings which are inse])- 
arably connected with it. These blessings are not mere out- 
ward privileges, but are saving graces — purity, holiness, 
peace with God and the certain hope of eternal life. These 
blessings are not bestowed on nations, but on individuals. It 
had, however, been a favourite prejudice of the Jewish nation 
that all the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom were to be 
exclusively confined to them, in virtue of God's covenant 
with Abraham. The Apostle, therefore, in the ninth (•ha[)tei-, 
begins the discussion of the question, Who are to be the sub- 
jects of Christ's kingdom? Who are to be partakers 
of that "pardon, peace, and eternal life" whicli are f()uiid 
only in Jesus? All the previous parts of the E[)istle have 
been speaking of only one kind of privileges, and that tlu; 
saving blessings of the Gospel. It is a violent presumption 



138 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

to suppose that Paul here drops all consideration of them, 
and begins a discussion about national advantages which 
have no conceivable connection M'ith the scope and design 
of the Epistle. Unconnected as Paul is thought by many 
to be in his -writings, such a transition would be altogether 
unpardonable. The question plainly before him was, Who 
shall be saved ? Who shall be recipients of the hopes of the 
Gospel? This question is very naturally and obviously 
connected with the previous discussion. As in the solution 
of this question he was about to announce a very unwelcome 
truth to his brethren, he commences the chapter with cordial 
professions of attachment and love, manifested by the deep 
interest which he took in their spiritual v/elfare. He then 
delicately approaches the main point by anticipating an ob- 
jection, verse 6 : " Not as though the AVord of God had 
taken none effect." That is, God -s\'as not bound by His 
promises to Abraham to bestow the blessings of the Gospel 
on the Jews, considered merely as natural descendants of the 
patriarch. Why? "They are not all Israel which are of 
Israel ; " that is, the promises were made only to the spiritual 
seed, but all the natural descendants of Israel are not the 
spiritual seed. He then proves that natural descent did not 
entitle to the saving blessings of the Gospel, by a reference 
to the cases of Ishmael and Isaac, and of Esau and Jacob. 
The question then recurs. Who are the recipients of the prom- 
ises? The answer is given in verse 8, which amounts to 
this : " Those who are born by a special interj^osition of God 
are the true individuals to whom the promises are effectual." 
But are these individuals confined to any particular nation, 
or found among any particular people ? No. Ver. 24 : 
They are those " whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, 
but also of the Gentiles." And here he begins the full dis- 
closure of the solemn fiict that many of his own countrymen, 
in spite of their privileges, would fail of eternal life, while 
many of the Gentiles w^ould be admitted to the blessings of 
Messiah's kingdom. The observation of the Apostle in verse 
24 is utterlv inconsistent with the idea of a national election 



ELECTION AND EEPROBATION. 139 

to external privileges, for he pointedly declares that the 
blessings of which he was then speaking are confined to no 
nation, but are extended to called or chosen ones in every 
nation : " Those whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, 
but also of the Gentiles" — those -persons or individuah in 
every nation whom He hath chosen to eternal life. The 
Apostle here, as elsewhere, tells us that " there is no diffei'- 
ence," no distinction in Christ's kingdom, of Jew and Greek 
— that " neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncir- 
cumcision, but a new creature." To illustrate this great 
principle, that the recipients of the blessings of the Gospel 
are just those whom God chooses in His sovereign pleasni-e, 
is the design of the ninth chapter and the two following. In 
applying it to the Jews, he was obliged to reveal the rejec- 
tion of many of his countrymen, and to establish, contrary 
to their prejudices, the calling and conversion of the Gentiles. 
To any candid reader of this Epistle the evidence is cumu- 
lative that Paul does not refer to the choice of nations to 
peculiar privileges. In verse 3 he says : " For I could wish 
that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my 
kinsmen according to the flesh." Now could the " heavi- 
ness" of Paul's heart on account of his brethren have been 
so great as to j)rompt such language as this, if his brethren 
after all were losing nothing but the privilege of being the 
exclusive people of God ? Would Paul grieve so seriously 
and deeply because the Gentiles were admitted to equal priv- 
ileges with the Jews ? Can it be supposed for a moment 
that such language was or could have been penned by the 
inspired Apostle, when the whole grievance was that the 
middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was 
broken down, and that God was dispensing His Gospel to 
the ends of the earth ? No ! Paul saw a cloud filled with 
wrath — a black cloud of vindicatory justice aifcx;ting the 
eternal interests of his countrymen — ready to bui-st upon 
their heads ; he saw many of them sealed up under the ter- 
rible judgment of judicial blindness, and in spite of their 
privileges going down io liell ; and this it was which racked 



140 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

his heart with agony, and drew forth his thrilling expressions 
of sympathy and grief. He envied not the Gentiles ; on the 
contrary, he makes their calling and conversion matters of 
solemn doxology and thanksgiving to God ; but he did 
lament, deeply and sorely lament, that so many of his coun- 
trymen were cut oif from the hopes of eternal life. 

" The choice, moreover, is between vessels of mercy and 
vessels of wrath — vessels of mercy chosen unto 'glory,'' 
not unto church privileges, and vessels of wrath who were 
made the example of God's displeasure against sin." 

In verses 30, 31, Paul states definitely the privileges 
which this election respected — justification by. faith and its 
attendant blessings. " What shall we say then ? That 
the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have 
attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is 
of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of right- 
eousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." 
It would certainly be a gross abuse of language to apply 
the phrases " righteousness which is of faith, law of right- 
eousness," to mere external privileges ; these phrases mani- 
festly refer to the saving blessings of the Gospel, and yet it 
is this righteousness which a majority of the Jews forfeited, 
and which the Gentiles obtained by election. 

The tenth chapter shows that the rejection of the Jews 
implied the loss of saving privileges. Paul commences it 
with a prayer that they " might be saved " — not that their 
national privileges might be retained, but that they might 
receive the gift of eternal life. He shows that they lose 
justification, not church privileges, by rejecting Christ and 
clinging to their own righteousness. Much of the chapter 
is taken up in discussing the j^lan of salvation and the 
nature and grounds of saving faith, but not a word concerns 
national privileges. The eleventh chapter bears a plain tes- 
timony to the fact that Paul was discussing matters of eter- 
nal life and eternal death. I shall just refer to the first 
verse. Here Paul denies that God has rejected the whole 
Jewish nation, and brings himself forward as an instance 



EI.ECTJOX AND REPROBATION. 141 

of a Jew wlio was not rejected. If tlie question resiiccted 
only national j)rivileges, an argument drawn from the case 
of an individual would be sheer nonsense. How could 
Paul possess national privileges ? But Paul means to say 
that some of the Jews Avill be saved, or that all will not be 
lost, and in proof of this proposition he brings himself for- 
ward as an example of a converted Jew. That this is his 
meaning will appear from a comparison of verses 5 and 6, 
in which he asserts that there is a chosen remnant who will 
be saved, wdiile the great majority of the nation was blinded. 
And in the conclusion of this protracted discussion, I would 
only observe that the interpretation for which I contend 
derives no small support from the objections which the 
Apostle considers against his own doctrines. They are those 
which in all ages have been urged against personal election 
to eternal life, but I do not know that they have ever been 
applied to the cases of nations or communities blessed above 
others with peculiar privileges. 

These considerations are sufficient, it would seem, to sat- 
isfy any candid mind that in the ninth of Romans the Apostle 
is treating of a personal election to eternal life, and if so 
the texts are in point, and render it absolutely certain that 
election is wholly unconditional and sovereign. In fact, 
Arminians are aware of this, and therefore labour so strenu- 
ously to distort these Scriptures from their obvious applica- 
tion. In verse 11 it is said: "For the children being not 
yet born, ^either having done any good or evil, that the 
purpose of God according to election might stand, not of 
works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, The 
elder shall serve the younger." If language has any mean- 
ing at all, these verses teach that there is no other founda- 
tion of election than the mere mercy and goodness of God, 
which embrace whom He chooses of Adam's ruined race, 
without paying the least regard to works. Again, verse 15, 
it is said : " I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, 
and I Avill have compassion on whom I will have compas- 
sion." "God," says Calvin, "proved by this very declara- 



142 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

tion that He is debtor to none; that every blessing bestowed 
upon the elect flows from gratuitous kindness, and is freely- 
granted to whom He pleases ; that no cause which is supe- 
rior to His own wdll can be conceived or devised why He 
entertains kind feelings or manifests kind actions to some 
of the children of Adam and not to all." " So, then, it is 
not of him that willcth nor of him that runneth, but of 
God that showeth mercy." Verse 16. "These words," 
says Professor Hodge, " are not intended to teach that the 
efforts of men for the attainment of salvation are useless, 
much less do they teach that such efforts should not be 
made. They simply declare that the result is not to be 
attributed to them — that the reason why one man secures 
the blessiuff and another does not is not to be found in the 
greater ardour of desire or intensity of effort in the one 
than in the other, but the reason is in God." 

The last passage which I shall quote to sustain the gra- 
tuitous election of God is found in Komans xi. 5-7 : 
" Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant 
according to the election of grace. And if by grace then 
it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. 
But if it be of works, then it is no more grace ; otherwise 
work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not 
obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath 
obtained it, and the rest were blinded." In order to avoid 
the force of this passage an interpretation has been devised 
utterly at war with all the principlas of language. The 
gratuitous election here spoken of has been twisted to mean 
an election of faith as the condition of salvation rather than 
works. Out of all the possible plans wdiich God might have 
adopted. He has selected that which makes faith in Christ 
the medium of justification, and this choice of faith is 
entirely gratuitous, faith having no more claims upon God's 
favour than works. " Risnm teneatis amici f It is suf- 
ficiently plain that the Apostle is not discussing the election 
of a principle, but of men ; '' the election" — that is, the 
elect or chosen ones — " have obtained it, and the rest were 



ELECTIOxV AND REPEOBATION. 143 

blinded." Can lie mean that all the other possible schemes 
of salvation which God might have laid down instead of 
faith were blinded ? And what strange jargon is it to talk 
of electing a principle ! These pitiful subterfuges show how- 
hard it is to close the eyes against a truth which Paul so 
plainly teaches — the solemn truth that God is free and 
sovereign in the distribution of His favours. 

The separate points in the doctrine of election having 
been thus discussed, it may be well to make a few remarks 
on the inseparable doctrine of reprobation. The very fact 
that all men were not elected shows that some Avere passed 
by. This passing them by, or refusing to elect them, and 
leaving them under a righteous sentence of condemnation, 
constitutes reprobation. If election is personal, eternal 
and absolute, reprobation must possess these qualities also. 
There is this difference between them, however : election 
finds the objects of mercy unfit for eternal life, and puts 
forth a positive agency in preparing them for glory ; repro- 
bation finds the objects of wrath already fitted for destruc- 
tion, and only M-ithholds that influence which alone can 
transform them. It is not intended to deny here that cases 
of judicial blindness occur in which the sinner's heart is 
hardened. The example of Pharaoh is a case in point. 
But judicial blindness is a punishment inflicted in which 
God acts as a righteous Judge dealing with men for their 
obstinacy; whereas reprobation is strictly an act of sove- 
reignty in which God refuses to save, and leaves the sin- 
ner to the free course of law. Our Standards afford no 
sort of shelter to the Hopkinsian error that the decree of 
reprobation consists in God's determining to fit a certain 
number of mankind for eternal damnation, and that the 
Divine agency is as positively employed in men's bad voli- 
tions and actions as in their good. These doctrines, we 
know, have been frequently charged upon us with no little 
violence and acrimony, but we have always adhered to the 
position of the Bible, that God is not the author of evil ; and 
we believe that there is no inconsistency in supposing that 



144 ELECTION AXD REPROBA TIOX. 

God may determine an action as a natural event, and yet be 
unstained with its sin and pollution. That the Scriptures 
teach the doctrine of reprobation, as depending on the sove- 
reignty and good pleasure of God, is manifest from the 
following passages — Matt. xi. 25 : " At that time Jesus 
answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven 
and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise 
and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Here 
our blessed Saviour addresses the Father by a word highly 
expressive of sovereignty, and refers the illumination of 
some and the blindness of others to His Father's will alone : 
" Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." 
Rom. ix. 18 : "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will 
have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth." If it be 
said that this refers to the judicial blindness with which 
Pharaoh was struck, let it be remembered that no punish- 
ment of any sort would or could be inflicted on the wicked, 
if they were not left under the sentence of condemnation 
originally pronounced upon the race. The fact of their 
reprobation leaves them in that state to which punishment 
was justly due, and the argument of Paul is that some are 
left in that state and others not by the sovereign j)leasure 
of God. Verse 21 : " Hath not the potter power over the 
clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour anc' 
another to dishonour ?" Jude 4 : " For there are certain 
men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to 
this condemnation — ungodly men, turning the grace of our 
God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God and 
our Lord Jesus Christ." In fact, every passage of Scrip- 
ture which teaches that any will be finally lost, teaches at 
the same time, by necessary implication, if the doctrine of 
election be true, that they were eternally reprobated or left 
out of the number of the elect. The two doctrines stand 
or fall together. 

Independently of the direct and immediate testimony 
■which the Scriptures bear in support of eternal and uncon- 
ditional election and reprobation, there is an indirect teach- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 145 

ing of them by the inculcation of doctrines in which they 
are necessarily involved — such as the foreknowledge, provi- 
dence and independence of God, and the total depravity of 
man. There is no way in which these truths can be recon- 
ciled with the Arminian or Semi-Pelagian scheme. Fore- 
knowledge of a future event means, if it mean anything, 
that the event is regarded as absolutely certain in the Divine 
mind, and that it cannot possibly happen otherwise than as 
God foresees it will hap^ien. How the absolute certainty of 
events is consistent with contingency, which necessarily im- 
plies uncertainty, I leave it to the advocates of that strange 
hypothesis to determine. The Scripture account of fore- 
knowledge is simple and consistent : God foreknows all 
things because He decrees them, and hence the terms are 
frequently interchanged. Peter says that Christ was deliv- 
ered to death " by the determinate counsel and foreknow- 
ledge of God ; " that is, by the purpose and appointment of 
God. The doctrine of providence, by which God is repre- 
sented as acting upon a plan of which He knew the end 
from the beginning, cannot be conceived at all if we deny 
the existence of a fixed and definite purpose in the Divine 
mind. In fact, the denial of an eternal purpose is a virtual 
dethronement of God in His own dominions ; and the voice 
of reason remonstrates, as loudly as the voice of revelation, 
against the ruinous results to which such a denial must lead. 
The will of God becomes fearfully dependent upon the will 
of man, and the counsel of God must be formed and modelled 
upon the wisdom of the creature. The truth is, Arminian- 
ism declares an open war upon the essential attributes of 
God, and, if carried out into all its necessary consequences, 
it would lead at once to blank and cheerless Atheism. 

The account which the Bible gives us of human corrup- 
tion and depravity is utterly inconsistent with the scheme 
which makes election, in any measure, dependent upon the 
faith or perseverance of man. Sinners, in their natural 
state, are said to be " dead in trespasses and sins." " Every 
imagination of man's heart is only evil, and that continu- 

VOL. II. — 10 



146 ELECTION AND REPEOBATION. 

ally." The necessary consequence of depravity Is an utter 
inability to think a good thought or to perform a good action. 
The understanding is darkened, the affections alienated, the 
will bent on evil ; in short, the man is dead, spiritually 
dead, and therefore cannot believe or do any holy action 
until quickened and renewed by the supernatural grace of 
God. Hence our Saviour says, " No man can come to Me, 
except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." If this, 
then, be the true state of the case, all who believe are drawn 
by the Father, being utterly unable to do it of themselves. 
Why does God draw one and not another? — for it is mani- 
fest that all are not believers. Every Christian will promptly 
ascribe his calling and conversion to the mere grace of 
God, and this is election. The man who rejects election is 
bound to reject the scriptural account of human depravity 
if he would maintain consistency of opinion. He may resort 
to the superficial theory of common grace, but that will 
not relieve him of his difficulty. The Scriptures attribute 
every good disposition to God, and so the disposition not to 
resist common grace must after all be referred to sj)ecial 
grace. No Christian would ever have dreamed of Armin- 
ianism if he had been guided only by his own experience ; 
hence, when the love of system is laid aside, we find 
all pious Arminians sober and honest-hearted Calvinists, 
as their earnest prayers for grace and assistance unequiv- 
ocally declare. 

Another source of argument on this subject is the whole 
course of Divine Providence, which shows that God is abso- 
lutely sovereign in the distribution of His favours. The 
Lord does not deal with all men alike. The election of the 
Jews to church privileges, and to their relation to God as 
His peculiar people, was founded solely on His gratuitous 
mercy. Moses again and again admonishes them that their 
exaltation was due to God's unmerited love, and the more 
effectually to check their pride and humble their hearts, " he 
reproaches them with having deserved no favour, but as 
being a stiff-necked aud rebellious people." At this day 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 147 

millions of our fellow-men, no worse by nature than we, and 
no more unworthy of Divine compassion, are sunk in idolatry, 
degi'adation and ruin, while we enjoy the light of the Gospel 
and the privileges of the sanctuary. Why is this ? It can 
only be resolved into the sovereign pleasure of God. Even 
amongst us some are born to affluence, honour and distinc- 
tion, while others by the sweat of their brow can hardly 
procure a scanty subsistence for themselves and their families. 
Some are endowed with extraordinary powers of intellect, 
while others exhibit the melancholy spectacle of drivelling 
idiotcy. Why these distinctions among men whose moral 
characters are naturally the same ? No other answer can be 
given but the sovereign pleasure of God. The Divine sove- 
reignty in the distribution of favours is written in broad and 
palpable characters upon all His dealings with men and 
nations in the present course of His providence, and shall it 
be thought a thing incredible that the same principle should 
extend to their eternal interests ? Has God the right to bestow 
or withhold temporal blessings, and not the right to bestow 
eternal blessings ? The very same objections which may be 
raised against an election to life lie with all their force 
against "the inequalities of Providence. The very same 
arguments which are adduced to prove that one man cannot 
be chosen to spiritual privileges while another is rejected, 
apply just as strongly to the point that one man cannot be 
born rich and another poor. The objections are raised to 
the nature of the choice, and not to the character of the 
blessings bestowed or withheld. 

There is no other scheme which can be reconciled with the 
doctrine of salvation by free grace. If anything be left for 
the sinner to do, no matter how slight or insignificant the 
work may be, the blessing ceases to be the gift of God and 
becomes a matter of pactional debt. The Apostle testifies, 
however, that eternal life is the gift of God through the 
righteousness of Christ. Arminians endeavour to avoid the 
difficulty by maintaining that the intrinsic value of salvation 
far exceeds the merit of our works, so that the latter cannot 



148 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

be regarded as deserving the former ; and inasmuch as our 
faith and repentance are not a strict equivalent for the bless- 
ings of life, in a comparative sense our works are not merit- 
orious. But suppose a man should expose for sale an article 
worth a thousand dollars at the small price of one cent ; the 
man who pays the one cent becomes entitled to the article 
on the score of debt just as completely as though he had paid 
the full value. The principle of debt is just this : a reward 
in consideration of something done. It matters not how 
slight that something may be. Now, w^lien salvation is said 
to be by grace in opposition to works or debt, it excludes 
everything in the sinner himself as the ground of his title 
to it, and leaves it to the mere disposal of God, so that it 
shall not be of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but 
of God that showeth mercy; and this is the very principle 
upon which election turns. 

III. When the doctrines of absolute and unconditional 
election and reprobation are proclaimed, the perverse and 
rebellious hearts of the children of men are ready to conjure 
up a thousand objections against them. There is seldom 
any attempt made to overthrow the mass of positive, direct 
testimony in their favour, drawn alike from the Scriptures 
of truth, the character of God, the experience of the Chris- 
tian and the uniform course of Divine Providence, because 
this is felt to be absolutely impossible. A less ingenuous 
method is resorted to. The prejudices of the carnal heart 
against the truth are diligently fostered ; horrible conse- 
quences, revolting alike to reason and common sense, are 
perversely deduced ; hobgoblin terrors are excited ; bold and 
reckless assertion is substituted for argument ; and all this 
miserable artifice is passed off as a refutation of Calvinism. 
Take away from many Arminian writers their gross misrep- 
resentations and disgraceful personal abuse, their pompous 
rhodomontade against tlie " horrible decree," and their fiery 
declamaticii against consequences which exist nowhere but 
in their own brains, and what is left will be but a small 
portion compared with the whole. It seems to be forgotten 



ELECTION AND REPUOBATION, 149 

that mere objections, which constitute at best but a negative 
testimony, cannot destroy positive evidence. If the truth is 
to be sacrificed to difficulties, what will become of the doc- 
trines of the Trinity, of the incarnation of the Son, and of 
the residence of the Spirit in the hearts of believers ? A 
thousand objections have been raised against these glorious 
truths just as plausible and fully as forcible as the objections 
of the Arminians against the doctrine of election ; and yet 
no Christian would think of doubting them, because, though 
encumbered with difficulties, they are sustained by adequate 
testimony and confirmed by positive evidence. 

The great source of error in regard to Divine things is 
ignorance. We are ignorant of God as He is in Himself, 
and ignorant of the full economy of His government. " Ye 
do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God," 
was the reply of our Saviour to the captious Sadducees when 
they brought forward what they conceived to be an unan- 
swerable argument against the resurrection of the dead. 
The same reply may be justly given to those who are rebel- 
lious against the sovereignty of God, and it ought to be 
sufficient. If the Scriptures teach the doctrine, we may rest 
satisfied that all our difficulties arise from our ignorance ; 
not from the subject itself in its own intrinsic nature, but 
from our limited faculties and still more limited knowledge. 
With this general observation the whole subject might be 
dismissed ; but as a mode so summary of treating objections 
might have a tendency to magnify them in the minds of 
some beyond their just importance, it will probably be well 
to give the more prominent and common ones a fuller dis- 
cussion. Let it not be supposed, however, that objections 
lie exclusively against the Calvinistic system. Men make 
but a poor exchange in the way of difficulties when they 
renounce the good old doctrines of the Reformation for the 
superficial schemes which depend essentially upon the sin- 
ner's free will. Arminians talk as confidently of the diffi- 
culties of Calvinism as if their own system were perfectly 
disencumbered of all objection, when the truth is that it has 



150 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

many difficulties in common with Calvinism, besides others 
peculiar to itself. 

The leading objections to the doctrine of election are 
drawn from the moral character of God and from the moral 
agency of man. We shall consider them in order. 

First. The attributes of God which are supposed to l.»e 
injured by this doctrine are, His justice, His impuiikdity, 
and His truth. It is enough to make the blood run cold to 
read the terras of shocking and revolting blasphemy in 
which these objections are sometimes brought forward ; and, 
I must believe, in many instances only for effi?ct. 

1. It is a standing theme of Arminian declamation that 
election and reprobation are utterly inconsistent with 
the justice of God ; in other words, that God cannot be 
sovereign in fixing the destinies of men without ceasing 
to be just. It seems to be forgotten that tliere are two 
recorded notices in Scripture of this very objection : (1.) 
" What shall we say then ? Is there unrighteousness with 
God? God forbid." Rom. ix. 14. Paul had, as we have 
already seen, been asserting in unlimited terms the very 
doctrine for which we are contending, and here, in verse 
14, notices an objection which he was sure the flesh 
would bring up: "Is there unrighteousness with God?" 
" How prodigious," says Calvin, " is the frenzy of the 
human mind, which rather accuses God of injustice than 
convicts itself of being influenced by blindness!" It is 
observable that Paul, in answering this objection, simply 
appeals to the Scriptures of eternal truth. He shows that 
God, in so many words, claimed to be sovereign in the dis- 
tribution of His favours, and appeals to a celebrated instance 
in which that sovereignty, in the withholding of favours, 
was actually exercised. He talces it for granted that the 
Scriptures are true, and that Avhatever God does must neces- 
sarily be right. No matter in what difficulties or obscurity 
the Divine dispensations may seem to be involved, yet God 
is essentially just, and therefore cannot do an unrighteous 
act. Now, the Scriptures do declare that God " hatli mercy 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 151 

on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hard- 
eneth ; " therefore such a procedure cannot possibly be unjust. 
God does it, and on that account it must be right. This is 
the sum and substance of Paul's answer to the objection, and 
it ought to be satisfactory to every pious mind. "The 
thought," as Calvin well observes in explaining the answer 
of Paul, " deserves the utmost execration which believes 
injustice to exist in the Fountain of all righteousness." And 
again : " The apology produced by Paul to show that God 
was not unjust, because He is merciful to whom He thinks 
fit, might appear cold ; but because God's own authority, as 
it requires the aid and support of no other, is abundantly 
sufficient of itself, Paul was content to leave the Judge of 
quick and dead to avenge His own right." I cannot forbear 
to notice here how conclusively this objection evinces that 
Paul's doctrine and ours are precisely the same. "It clearly 
proves that the cause of God's rejecting some and electing 
others is to be sought for merely in His will and purpose ; 
for if the difference between these two characters depended 
upon a regard to their works, Paul Avould have discussed the 
question concerning God's injustice in a very unnecessary 
manner, since no suspicion could possibly arise against the 
perfect justice of the Disposer of all things if He treats every 
son and daughter of Adam according to their works." If 
the Scriptures do really teach this doctrine, it cannot injure 
the justice of God, for the same Scriptures as clearly teach 
that God is just. If we have any regard for the authority 
of inspiration, we are bound to believe both truths. Suppose 
we cannot reconcile them or understand how they are recon- 
ciled, what then ? It only follows that we are blind and 
short-sighted, and "cannot see afar otf." The objection, 
then, according to the showing of an inspired Apostle, is good 
for nothing. But (2.) we have another authority on this sub- 
ject. The Son of God Himself has condescended to notice this 
objection, and, in effect, to pronounce it utterly worthless. 
He put forth a parable, recorded in the twentieth chapter of 
Matthew, for the purpose of showing that God might dis- 



152 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

tribute peculiar and special favours to some, without being 
guilty of any sort of injustice to others. 

The scope of this whole parable is definitely stated in the 
sixteenth verse : " So the last shall be first, and the first 
last; for many be called, but few chosen." The terms first 
and lad, in a spiritual sense, are applied to those who, in 
the judgment of men, would naturally be expected to be 
first or last in receiving the blessings of the Gospel. The 
"firsi^^ are those who, in consequence of peculiar endow- 
ments or adventitious circumstances, would seem to have 
the fairest claims upon the Divine clemency. They are 
sober, intelligent, respectable moral men. The " last'' are 
those who notoriously have no shadow of claim, even in the 
carnal judgment of men, upon the compassion of God. 
They are decidedly and openly wicked. The moral and 
scrupulous but yet self-righteous Jews may be taken as a 
fair specimen of those whom our Saviour meant by the 
" first ;" the abandoned publicans and harlots may be 
regarded as appropriate examples of those whom He 
intended by the " last." We should have expected a priori 
that the rigid descendants of Abraham would give a more 
ready and welcome reception to the Gospel than the j^rofli- 
gate publicans or abandoned harlots ; but yet facts, and the 
positive assertion of the Saviour, show that the last were 
first, and the first last. The same general truth is taught 
by Paul, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27 : " For ye see your calling, breth- 
ren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many 
mighty, not many noble are called ; but God has chosen 
the foolish things of the v.orld to confound the wise, and 
God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound 
the things which are mighty," etc. Here Paul's wise men 
after the flesh, his noble and mighty, are the same with our 
Saviour's first, while his foolish and weak are the same with 
our Saviour's last. What is the reason that the first are 
last and the last first? "Many are called, but few chosen." 
" God hath chosen,''' etc., says Paul. The meaning, then, of 
verse 16, which contains the scope of the whole parable, is 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 163 

simply this : While all are freely invited to partake of the 
blessings of the Gospel, yet the sovereign choice of God 
applies them effectually, not to those who, according to the 
carnal judgment of men, would seem to have the greatest 
claim on the Divine mercy, but to those whose utter desti- 
tution of all shadow of claim would render God's grace the 
more remarkably conspicuous. To illustrate this principle, 
which has been frequently exemplified in the history of the 
Church, and to show that it is by no means inconsistent 
with the Divine justice, seems to be the special purpose of 
the parable. Our Saviour begins : " For the kingdom of 
heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which 
went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his 
vineyard." Ver. 1. That is, the principle on which the 
saving blessings of the Gospel are conferred on men may 
be illustrated by the case of a householder in employing 
and rewarding labourers in his vineyard. " And when he 
had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent 
them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third 
hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and 
said unto them. Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatso- 
ever is right I will give you ; and they went their way. 
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did 
likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and 
found others standing idle, and saith unto them. Why stand 
ye here all the day idle ? They say unto him. Because no 
man hath hired us. He saith unto them. Go ye also into 
the vineyard, and whatsoever is right that shall ye receive." 
Verses 2-7. The circumstances of standing in the market- 
place and hiring labourers are merely ornamental, being 
designed to give life and costume to the narrative, but they 
have no immediate connection with itd scope. It is idle, 
therefore, to attempt to seek, in our spiritual relations to 
God, anything to correspond with these minute particulars. 
The general truth designed to be conveyed is that the Lord 
is our common Master, and that we have no claims whatever 
upon Him except those to which He gives rise by His own 



154 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

gratuitous promise. The labourers had no claim to the 
patronage and bounty of the householder, and after he had 
employed them they had no right to expect a liberality from 
him beyond the terms of their engagement. Their rela- 
tions to him required on his part nothing more than sheer 
justice. This was all they could ask. It may be asked 
here, What is meant by labouring in the vineyard? I 
answer that our Saviour by this meant simply to designate 
the relations in which men stand to God. These are two- 
fold — legal or gracious, according to the covenant under 
which men are. As the labourers in the vineyard were 
dealt with on the principles of justice or mercy, according 
to the light or relationship in which the householder chose 
to regard them, so men are dealt with by God upon the 
same principles, according to the relations in which they 
stand to Him. The labouring in the vineyard is a cir- 
cumstance in the narrative designed to teach only a rela- 
tionship, without specifying precisely what it is, or at all 
intimating that it was the same in all. This is most ol)vious 
from the sequel of the narrative. Suffice it to say, that we 
all stand to God in the general relationship of subjects to a 
sovereign, without having any right or title to clemency and 
grace. " So when the even was come, the Lord of the vine- 
yard said unto his steward. Call the labourers and give them 
their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And 
when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, 
they received every man a penny. But when the first came 
they supposed that they should have received more, but 
they likewise received every man a penny." Verses 8-10. 
Here the point of resemblance between the kingdom of 
heaven and the householder is introduced, and here the 
principle on which the destinies of men are determined is 
clearly developed. That principle is simply this : God does 
injustice to none, while He is peculiarly merciful to some. 
The householder gave the labourers first employed their 
due. He was just to them, he wnthheld nothing to which 
they had any claim. So God will eventually give repro- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 155 

bate sinners their due; "the wages of sin is death;" they 
virtually agreed for this, for they knew the necessary conse- 
quence of guilt, and therefore God does them no injustice. 
On the other hand, the labourers last employed, who repre- 
sent the elect, are treated far beyond their deserts ; tliey are 
dealt with on a principle of mercy, and through grace 
receive what they have no personal right to expect. It will 
be observed here that the labourers first employed answer, 
in the spiritual sense of the narrative, to those who seem to 
have some claims to the clemency and grace of God, while 
the labourers last employed answer to those who are noto- 
riously destitute of all shadow of claim. It will be fur- 
ther observed that the penny simply denotes the idea of 
wages, for that was the customary hire of a day-labourer. 
From the fact that all received a penny Ave are simply to 
understand that all w^ere fairly and honourably reckoned 
with. Some were dealt with on the principle of justice, 
receiving the stipulated wages of day-labourers ; others on 
the principle of mercy, receiving what they had no right to 
expect. In a sjiiritual sense the penny in one case would 
be death, the stipulated wages of sin ; in the other, eternal 
life, the stipulated reward of grace. " And when they had 
received it, they murmured against the good man of the 
house, saying. These last have wrought but one hour, and 
thou hast made them equal unto us, Avhich have borne the 
burden and heat of the day." Verses 11, 12. The force 
of this objection is this : We have greater claims upon your 
kindness than the others; Ave have been moral, upright 
men, and in many cases had a zeal for God, Avhile these 
others haA^e in too many instances been mere publicans and 
harlots, the ignorant and abandoned of society. Our claim 
is as much greater than theirs as the claim of labourers 
who have " borne the burden and heat of the day" is greater 
than the claim of idlers avIio have laboured only one hour. 
They no more compare Avith us in the qualifications suited 
to recommend them to God than such an idler can compare 
Avith such a labourer. 



156 P^LEOTION AND REPROBATION. 

The men, it will be observed, who had laboured longest 
in the vineyard were literally first, and so had, it would 
seem, the fairest claim on the favour of the householder, 
but he judged differently, and consequently made the last 
first : " But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I 
do thee no Avrong. Didst rhou not agree with me for a 
penny ? Take that thine is and go thy way. I will give 
unto this last even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me 
to do what I will with mine own ? Is thine eye evil 
because I am good ? So the last shall be first, and the first 
last; for many be called, but few chosen." Verses 13-16. 
Here the proposition is flatly maintained that goodness to 
one implies no injustice to another in the case supposed. 
The reasons are — (1.) Because God is absolutely sovereign, 
and can do as He pleases in perfect consistency with justice. 
(2.) Because sinners have no claims upon God whatever. 
(3.) Because they are actually dealt with according to the 
demands of justice — just as much so as if they had stipu- 
lated with God for the punishment which they will ulti- 
mately receive. 

To say nothing of the first, the two last points of our 
Saviour's answer contain a triumphant refutation of this 
vaunting objection, and therefore we shall consider them a 
little more particularly. The ^rs/ position is that sinners 
have no sort of claim upon the Divine clemency. It has 
been already shown sufficiently that men in the decree of 
election and reprobation were regarded as fallen in Adam. 
The fall, being a breach of the covenant of law, brought the 
whole race under the sentence of condemnation and death. 
" By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to 
condemnation." Eom. v. 18. " And were by nature the 
children of wrath even as others." Eph. ii. 3. The only 
question of any importance here is. Was this a righteous 
sentence ? The fact that God pronounced it is a sufficient 
answer. Now if the whole race were righteously condemned 
in the first instance, there could be no injustice in leaving 
them under the sentence and in actually inflicting the curse. 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 157 

If the sentence itself was right, the execution of it cannot 
be wrong. God might, then, most justly and righteously 
have left every son and daughter of Adam to the terrible 
course of law, and if He could have left all indiscrimi- 
nately, surely He can leave some, and yet be just and right- 
eous still. But the sinner is not only legally and right- 
eously condemned, but he is also desperately corrupt. His 
heart is deceitful above all things, being wholly alienated 
from God, and holiness, and heaven. He is absolutely ^f 
by native depravity for nothing but banishment and eter- 
nal separation from his Maker. His mind is enmify against 
God, and therefore if introduced into heaven without a 
moral renovation he would be supremely miserable. His 
deep and malignant depravity is an object of abhorrence 
to God and to all holy beings, and the fact that he has 
destroyed himself cuts him oflP from all claim to the sym- 
pathy and compassion of the Being whom he has so griev- 
ously offended. The following remarks of Calvin deserve 
a serious and attentive consideration, and they are purposely 
introduced because that great and good man has been egre- 
giously calumniated on this point : " Therefore, if any one 
attack us with such an inquiry as this. Why God has from 
the beginning predestinated some men to death who, not yet 
being brought into existence, could not yet deserve the sen- 
tence of death, we will reply by asking them in return, 
What they suppose God owes to man if He chooses to judge 
of him from his own nature ? As we are all corrupted by 
sin, we must necessarily be odious to God, and that not from 
tyrannical cruelty, but in the most equitable estimation of 
justice. If all whom the Lord predestinates to death are 
in their natural condition liable to the sentence of death, 
what injustice do they complain of receiving from him? 
Let all the sons of Adam come forward ; let them all con- 
tend and dispute with their Creator because by His eternal 
providence they were previously to their birth adjudged to 
endless misery. What murmur will they be able to raise 
against this vindication when God, on the other hand, shall 



158 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

call them to a review of themselves? If they have all been 
taken from a corrupt mass, it is no wonder that they are 
subject to condemnation. Let them not, therefore, accuse 
God of injustice if His eternal decree has destined them 
to death, to which they feel themselves, whatever be their 
desire or aversion, spontaneously led forward by their own 
nature. Hence appears the perverseness of their disposi- 
tion to murmur, because they intentionally suppress the 
cause of condemnation which they are constrained to acknow- 
ledge in themselves, hoping to excuse themselves by charg- 
ing it upon God." These two facts — that sinners are by 
nature odious and loathsome to God, and are under a right- 
eous sentence of condemnation and death — establish beyond 
all doubt the position of the Saviour that none have any 
claims upon the Divine clemency or mercy. The second 
position is, that reprobate sinners are actually dealt with 
according to the demands of justice. God withholds noth- 
ing from them to which they have any claim, and He inflicts 
a punishment no more severe than they had every reason 
to expect. They are doomed to hell, but is not that the 
righteous allotment of the wicked? They are banished 
everlastingly from the presence of God, but did they not 
despise His authority, and were they not alienated in heart 
and affection from Him ? Where is or can be the injustice 
of punishing the wdcked? It is true that God withholds 
from them saving grace, because they have no right to 
expect it and He is under no obligation to bestow it. 
There is no injustice here — no more than there is injustice in 
my withholding alms from a beggar who despises me and 
calumniates my family. 

Such seem to be the sentiments contained in the reply of 
our adorable Redeemer. But it may be said that justice is 
violated in the case of the elect, because they do not receive 
the punishment which is due to them. The answer is ob- 
vious : their glorious Substitute and Surety became a curse 
for them in order to redeem them from the curse of the law. 
Jesus suffered in their name and stead, and completely sat- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 159 

isfied the demands of justice, so that God can be just and 
yet the justifier of all who believe on His Son. In neither 
case, then, is the justice of God violated. Upon the repro- 
bate it has free course, and they endure in their own proper 
persons the tremendous penalty of the law. Upon the elect 
it has free course in the person of their adorable Head, and 
He endured the unutterable curse of the law. May we not, 
therefore, triumphantly ask with Paul, " Is there unright- 
eousness with God ■? God forbid." 

I know that there are caricatures of Calvinism which 
represent God as having made man for the specific purpose 
of damnation, and as putting forth a positive agency in fit- 
ting him for hell. The reprobate are represented as poor, 
helpless, dependent creatures in the hands of a bloodthirsty 
tyrant, who, in the first instance, makes them sinners con- 
trary to their own will, absolutely forcing them into trans- 
gression, and then, in spite of all their efforts, drives them 
to hell, that he may delight himself with their torments ; 
and in such caricatures the reprobate are often represented 
as most amiable and lovely creatures, suited by their excellen- 
cies to soften a heart of stone ; but yet the cruel God of 
the Calvinists frowns upon them and sends them down to 
hell. These gross and slanderous caricatures might pass 
unnoticed if they were not palmed off upon the ignorant 
and unthinking as the genuine doctrines of Presbyte- 
rianism. And the worst part of the whole is, that when 
Presbyterians disavow them, instead of being believed or 
regarded as fair judges of their own principles, they are 
only charged with disgraceful cowardice, or taunted with 
being ashamed of their doctrines. If it is to such carica- 
tures that the charge of injustice is so confidently brought 
up, I have no motive to attempt an answer. It is enough 
that the charge cannot be sustained against the genuine doc- 
trines of the Church. 

2. Another very common but groundless objection to Cal- 
vinism is, that it imputes partiality to God, or makes Him a 
respecter of persons, while the Scriptures, on the other hand, 



160 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

declare that God is " no respecter of persons." Now, there is 
no inconsistency at all in God's appointing some to life and 
others to death of His own sovereign will, and at the same 
time being " no respecter of persons," in the scriptural sense 
of the phrase. " By the word person the Scripture signifies 
not a man, but those things in a man which, being conspicu- 
ous to the eyes, usually conciliate favour, honour and dignity, 
or attract hatred, contempt and disgrace. Such are riches, 
wealth, power, nobility, magistracy, country, elegance of 
form, on the one hand ; and on the other hand, poverty, 
necessity, ignoble birth, slovenliness, contempt and the like. 
Thus Peter and Paul declare that God is not a respecter of 
persons, because He makes no difterence between the Jew 
and the Greek, to reject one and receive the other merely on 
account of his nation. So James uses the same language 
when he means to assert that God in His judgment pays no 
regard to riches. And Paul, in another place, declares that, 
in judging, God has no respect to liberty or bondage." Ac- 
cording to this definition or explanation of the phrase, God 
cannot be regarded as a respecter of persons, unless His 
choice of some and rejection of others turn upon something 
in the individuals themselves. But we have already seen 
that God in this matter is wholly uninfluenced by anything 
in man — He acts according to His oivn will. The motives 
to favour arc derived solely from His mere mercy. If the 
motives of Divine action are derived entirely from the Divine 
Being Himself, He has manifestly no respect to persons, but 
only to His own will. The Scriptures declare that God 
loved Jacob and hated Esau, but they declare at the same 
time that there was nothing in Jacob to conciliate Divine 
favour more than in his brother. Now, if God were deter- 
mined in bestowing His favours by the birth, or blood, or 
rank, or respectability, or station of men. He would be a 
respecter of persons ; but we have already seen that not 
many wise or noble or honourable are called. So far is His 
favour from being regulated by respect to persons. But it 
may be asked. Why does He not treat all alike ? I would 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 161 

answer this question by asking a few others. Has not God 
an unquestionable right to manifest His mercy? or is mercy 
wholly denied to Him? Has He not an equal right to 
exercise His justice ? or is that attribute also denied to Him ? 
If He has a right to exercise both attributes, may He not do 
it upon any subjects that in their own nature are fit to dis- 
play them ? If man is guilty, may not God exercise His 
justice in punishing? if miserable, may not God exercise 
His mercy in saving ? If man is a fit subject for the display 
of both attributes, may not God choose some men for the 
manifestation of His mercy, and others for the manifestation 
of His justice? An affirmative answer cannot be withheld 
without denying one of the following propositions : Man is 
not a fit subject either of wrath or mercy ; or, God cannot 
manifest His justice and grace. Men must take one horn 
of this dilemma, or confess that the Lord's ways are equal, 
even though He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, 
and whom He will He hardeneth. Calvin, with his usual 
ability, observes : " The Lord, therefore, may give grace to 
whom He will, because He is merciful ; and yet not give it 
to all, because He is a just Judge ; may manifest His free 
grace by giving to some what they never deserve, while by 
not ffivino; to all He declares the demerit of all." 

3. The doctrine of election is supposed to be inconsistent 
with the sincerity of God in the general invitations and call 
of the Gospel, and with His professions of willingness that 
all should be saved. It is true that this doctrine is wholly 
irreconcilable with the idea of a fixed determination on the 
part of God to save, indiscriminately, the whole human race. 
The plain doctrine of the Presbyterian Church is that God 
has no purpose of salvation for all, and that He has not 
decreed that faith, repentance and holiness, and the eternal 
blessings of the Gospel, should be efficaciously applied to 
all. The necessary consequence of such a decree would be 
universal salvation. The Scriptures, which are supposed to 
prove that God sent His Son into the world with the specific 
intention of saving all without exception or limitation, it Ls 
Vol. II.— 11 



162 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

confidently believed, teach, when correctly interpreted, no 
such doctrine. It is often forgotten that love is ascribed to 
God under two or three different aspects. Sometimes it 
expresses the complacency and approbation with which He 
views the graces which His own Spirit has produced in the 
hearts of His children ; and in this sense it is plain that God 
can be said to love only the saints. It is probably in this 
sense that the terra love is to be understood in Jude's exhor- 
tation : " Keep yourselves in the love of God." Sometimes 
God's benevolence or general mercy is intended, such as He 
bestows upon the just and the unjust, the evil and the good, 
as in Psalms cxlv. 9 : " The Lord is good to all, and His 
tender mercies are over all Plis works." The common 
bounties of Providence may be referred to this head. Some- 
times it expresses that peculiar and distinguishing favour 
with which He regarded His elect from all eternity. In 
this sense, the love of God is always connected with the pur- 
pose of salvation. Again, the word sometimes denotes 
nothing; more than God's willins-ness to be reconciled to sin- 
ners in and through Christ. In regard to the love of com- 
placency or approbation, it is manifest at once that uncon- 
verted sinners have no lot nor part in it. God is angry with 
them every day ; " He hateth all workers of iniquity." 
The special love of God is confined exclusively to the elect. 
The general benevolence of God is common, but it implies 
no purpose of salvation at all ; and therefore, in that sense, 
God may be said to love the reprobate and disobedient. 
Even the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction are borne with 
in much long-suffering and patience. In reference to the 
last, it is plain that God may be heartily willing to save 
sinners in and through Christ — may determine to save all, 
in other words, who receive the Saviour — without positively 
decreeing to create in all men the necessary faith. In this 
sense, therefore, God may be said to love sinners, for whom, 
however, He has no purpose of salvation. Having estab- 
lished an inseparable connection between faith and salvation, 
He will infallibly save all that believe ; but it by no means 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 163 

follows that He will certainly bestow faith on all to whom 
the Gospel is preached. Hence, another important distinc- 
tion, to be borne in mind, is between what is technically 
called by divines the thapzazia of God and His sudoxca. 
By the first is meant that which God commands and is agree- 
able to His precept — in other words, what He requires His 
creatures to do ; by the other is meant His own fixed pur- 
pose or decree, or what He actually intends to do Himself 
The distinction is sometimes expressed by the terms precep- 
tive and decretive, applied to the will of God. It was the 
preceptive will of God that the Jews should not crucify the 
Lord Jesus Christ. They acted in this matter contrary to 
God's command, and were therefore guilty ; still, it was His 
decretive will that the Saviour should be crucified, for the 
Jews and Roman soldiers did only what " His hand and His 
counsel determined before to be done." The preceptive will 
of God is the rule of duty to us ; the decretive will, the plan 
of operations to Himself. The distinction is plainly just, 
natural and scriptural. 

The preceptive will of God is sometimes called His revealed 
will, and His decretive called His secret will. This distinc- 
tion does not suppose that the will of God in itself is com- 
pound or divisible 5 on the contrary, it is one and most sim- 
ple, and comprehends all things in one simple act. But as 
this most simple will of God is employed about a variety of 
objects, we are obliged, in accommodation to our weak 
capacities, to recur to distinctions which exist not in the will 
itself, but in the objects of volition. It is therefore an ob- 
jective and not a subjective distinction, which we have 
already stated. I said that the distinction was scriptural. 
This appears from the fact that both decrees and precepts 
are called the will of God. Thus the precept is called God's 
will in Psalm cxliii. 10 : " Teach me to do Thy will" — that 
is, to obey Thy precept. The decree is called God's will in 
Rom. ix. IP: "Who hath resisted His ^^^ll?"— that is. 
Who has frustrated His decree? "Though the precept," 
says Turrettin, " may fall under the decree, as to the propo- 



164 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

sition or prescribing of it, yet it does not fall under it as to 
the fulfilment or execution" — that is, to give or prescribe 
the precept is a part of God's decree, but to secure obedience 
forms no necessary part of it at all. " Hence," continues 
Turrettin, ''the distinction is a just one — the decretive will 
being that which determines the certainty of events ; and the 
preceptive will, that which simply prescribes duty to men. 
If this distinction be just, God may, Avithout contradiction, 
be said to will preceptively, or in the way of command, what 
He docs not will dccretively, or purpose to effect." " Thus 
it was His preceptive will that Pharaoh should let the Is- 
raelites go, that Abraham should sacrifice his son, and that 
Peter should not deny Christ ; " but yet none of these things 
were decreed. It was not the efficient purpose of God to 
cause them be done, as is plain from the event. Yet we are 
not to suppose that there is any contrariety in these wills, if 
I may so speak. They are different, being employed about 
different objects, but are not therefore contrary. 

God cannot be said without absurdity to will and not will 
the same thing in the same sense ; but God may be said to 
command a thing which He does not decree shall be done. 
He decrees to give the command and to prescribe the rule 
of duty, but He does not decree to give or secure obedience. 
There is no contradiction here. God commanded Abraham 
to offer up his son Isaac: this is God's preceptive will. He 
wills to give this precept as a trial of Abraham's faith. But 
God decreed that Isaac should not be offered up, as the event 
manifestly proved : this is God's decretive will. Is there 
any contradiction botAvcen them ? Is there any inconsistency 
in supposing that God should will to try Abraham's faith by 
such a command, and yet will at the same time that Isaac 
should not be slain? I Avould just remark, in concluding 
this point, that the preceptive will is the sole rule of duty to 
man, as its name shows ; and fearful guilt is always incurred 
when the commands of God are disregarded or despised. It 
is not my business to inquire whether God has a secret de- 
cree — that I shall or shall not, in point of fact, comply with 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 165 

His injunctions ; it is enough that I am bound to do so, and 
am justly held punishable if I do not obey. Whatever rule 
of operations He may prescribe to Himself, the one which 
He has given to me is plain and intelligible, and His unre- 
vealed purposes will afford me no shelter if I neglect or dis- 
regard it. 

Another important truth, which is necessary in this dis- 
cussion, is, that man is now just as much under the author- 
ity of God as he was previously to his fall. He is just as 
much the subject of command and law as ever he was, and 
is consequently as much bound to render perfect and entire 
obedience to all the Divine precepts. It would be prepos- 
terous to suppose that his own wilful sin had cancelled 
moral obligation. If, then, God still continues to be man's 
rightful sovereign, and man God's lawful subject, if the 
Lord still possesses the power to command, and man is still 
under obligation to obey, it should not be thought strange 
that God deals with man according to this relation, and 
actually enjoins upon him an obedience to law which He 
has no determinate purpose to give. This can be regarded 
as nothing more than the rightful exercise of lawful author- 
ity on the part of God ; and to deny that He can consist- 
ently do this without giving man the necessary grace to 
obey, is just flatly to deny that God is a sovereign or that 
man is a subject. 

Let these few preliminary remarks be distinctly borne in 
mind — (1.) That there are various senses in which love, or 
similar affections, are attributable to God ; (2.) that there 
is a just, natural and scriptural distinction of the will of 
God into preceptive and decretive; (3.) that the relation 
of sovereign and subject still remains unchanged between 
God and man — and I apprehend that there will be very lit- 
tle difficulty in refuting the Arminian hypothesis, that God 
actually wills or seriously intends the salvation of all men. 
The passages to which they most confidently appeal for sup- 
port may be ranged under two classes : First, those which 
contain statements of general love or mercy; secondly, 



166 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

those in which they suppose an unlimited purjjose of salva- 
tion is actually revealed. 

In regard to the passages of the first class, it is manifest 
that where the universal epithets are to be taken in their 
full latitude — which, however, is not always the case — noth- 
ing more can be fairly deduced than God's benevolence, 
which leads Him to bestow blessings upon all men. There 
is nothing specific about the character or nature of the 
blessings, or whenever anything specific is stated it is found 
to be only the common bounties of Providence that the 
sacred writer had immediately in vicAV. Plow preposter- 
ous, therefore, from such texts to deduce a purpose of uni- 
versal salvation, as though God could not send rain upon 
the wicked and unjust without designing to save them ! It 
is vain to allege that such general goodness is never referred 
to God's love. The Saviour settles the point in Matthew v. 
44, 45. There He commands Plis disciples to love their 
enemies, to bless them that curse them, to do good to them 
that hate them, etc. Why? " That ye may be the children 
of your Father which is in heaven ; for He maketh His 
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on 
the just and on the unjust." Here the disciples are com- 
manded to love their enemies, that they might be Ukc God. 
But how does it appear that God loves His enemies ? " He 
maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and 
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;" in other words, 
from the common bounties of Providence. With such a plain 
illustration of the fact that God can be said to love without 
intending to save, it is amazing that such jiassages as the 
following should ever have been adduced to prove a pur- 
pose of universal salvation : " The Lord is good to all, and 
His tender mercies are over all His works." I would as 
soon think of appealing to Romans ix. 22, because God is 
there said to have endured the vessels of Avrath fitted to 
destruction with much long-suffering. 

The second class of j)assages wdll be found to involve no 
more difficulty than the first. We shall consider the most 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 167 

forcible, or those to which Arminians most frequently appeal. 
The first which I shall notice is found in 2 Peter iii. 9 : 
" Not •willing that any should perish, but that all should 
come to repentance." I think it exceedingly doubtful 
whether the words any and all have an indiscriminate 
application in this passage. The context would seem to 
confine them within the limits of the " us" spoken of just 
above. This will appear by taking the whole verse in its 
connection : " The Lord is not slack concerning His prom- 
ise" — that is, the promise of His second coming — "as 
some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us ward." 
To whom? We cannot refer the "us" to any but thoso 
who in the eighth verse are addressed as ^^ beloved.'" It 
Avould seem, then, to designate only God's elect. Now, 
why is God long-suffering to His elect? Because He is 
" not w'illing that any" — that is, any of them — " should per- 
ish," but that all — that is, all of them — " should come to 
repentance." In other words, Christ delays His second 
coming, and will continue to delay it, until all His elect are 
savingly gathered into His kingdom and His mystical body 
completed. This, I confess, appears to me to be the most 
natural and obvious interpretation of the passage. It cer- 
tainly is grammatical, and harmonizes well with the con- 
text. I am aware that Calvin and other respectable writers 
have given a different interpretation. They make the latter 
clause epexegetical of the first, and resolve the willingness 
of God into His precept. The force of the passage in this 
view would be, " God has commanded men everyM'here to 
repent." This interpretation does no violence to the words 
of the passage, for they will certainly bear this meaning, 
but it seems to me to violate the grammatical connection. 
The next passage occurs in 1 Timothy ii. 4: "Who will 
have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledgfe 
of the truth." It is difficult to conceive how this passage 
can be supposed to prove a purpose of universal salvation. 
It expresses simply the inseparable connection between sal- 
vation and the knowledge of the truth, together with the 



168 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

solemn fact that God enjoins it upon all to receive the truth. 
It is manifestly God's preceptive will as revealed in the 
offers and invitations of the Gospel which is here meant ; 
there is not a syllable about any purpose or decree to save 
all men. Notice the expression : it is, " who will have ;" it 
expresses Avhat God is willing or commands that men should 
do, not what he intends to do Hiinself. If the latter had 
been the meaning, the passage would be, " who will save all 
men," not " who will have all men to be saved." The sim- 
ple distinction of the will of God into preceptive and decre- 
tive divests this passage of all its difficulty. 

The next which I shall notice is Ezek. xxxiii. 11 : "As 
I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death 
of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and 
live ; turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye 
die, O house of Israel ? " The remarks of Turrettin on this 
passage are so just and appropriate that I cannot forbear to 
translate them : " Although God here j^rotests that He has 
no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the 
wicked should turn from his ways and live, it does not fol- 
low that God willed or intended, upon any condition, the 
cxjuversion and life of each and every man. For, besides 
that conversion cannot be conditional, it being the condition 
of life itself, it is certain that the prophet is here speaking 
of God's preceptive and not His decretive will. The word 
]'?ri, which is here used, always denotes conij)lacency or 
delight. The passage then simply teaches that God is 
pleased with, or approves, the conversion and life of the sin- 
ner, as a thing in itself grateful to Him and suited to His 
merciful nature. God is pleased with this rather than the 
death of the sinner, and therefore enjoins it as a duty that 
men be converted if they expect to be saved. But although 
God takes no delight in the death of the sinner, considered 
merely as the destruction of the creature, it does not follow 
that He does not will and intend it as an exercise of His 
own justice and as an occasion of manifesting His glory. 
A pious magistrate takes no delight in the death of the 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 169 

guilty, but still he justly decrees the punishment demanded 
by tliB- laws. The interrogatory, 'Why will ye die?' is 
added because God would show to them in these words how 
death was to be avoided, and that they, by voluntary impen- 
itence, were the sole authors of their own ruin." 

The passages, however, which are most confidently relied 
on as teaching a purpose of universal salvation are those 
which relate to the atonement of Christ, and which seem to 
give it an unlimited extent. It is freely admitted that the 
doctrine of election falls to the ground if an universal atone- 
ment — that is, a full satisfaction to law and justice for all the 
sins of every individual — can be fairly demonstrated. There 
are multiplied passages of Scripture in which the atonement 
is confined to the elect. Christ, the Good Shepherd, lays 
down His life only for the sheep. The song of the redeemed 
in glory seems to proceed upon no other supposition but that 
of a limited redemption : " Thou wast slain and hast re- 
deemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and 
tongue, and people, and nation." The general current of 
Scripture appears to represent the incarnation and death of 
the Redeemer as the grand means by which the great pur- 
pose of electing love was gloriously accomplished. Hence 
we are said to be " chosen in Christ." The texts which are 
supposed to favour the doctrine of universal atonement 
admit an explanation which does no violence to the laws of 
language or the analogy of faith. Many of the passages 
adduced to prove an unlimited design to save each and every 
individual prove nothing more than an universal offer. No 
one doubts that the Gospel olFer is indiscriminate and general, 
but this only supposes an all-sufficiency in Christ, without 
at all implying that Christ actually intends to save all to 
whom the Gospel is preached. The universal epithets in 
other passages must be restricted by the immediate connection 
or scope of the passage. Having made these preliminary 
remarks, I proceed to examine the most prominent passages. 
1 Tim. ii. 6 : " Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be 
testified in due time." The common and familiar appli- 



170 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

cation of the word gave to the Gospel offer sufficiently 
determines the meaning of this passage. It teaches only 
that Christ is offered to the whole world as an abundant and 
all-sufficient Saviour. The word testified, which has a 
manifest allusion to the proclamation of the Gospel or the 
public and indiscriminate exhibition of Christ as the Saviour 
of sinners, who in " due time " should be preached to " every 
creature," seems to me to confirm this interpretation. Not 
a word does this passage then contain about the design of 
Christ to satisfy for the sins of each and every individual. 
1 John ii. 2 : " He is the propitiation for our sins, and not 
for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." A 
reference to Romans iii. 25 explains sufficiently the meaning 
of John : " Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation," 
etc. That is, Christ is held up to the acceptance of sinners 
indiscriminately as the only medium of reconciliation with 
God. He is " set forth," placed before them as " the way, 
the truth, and the life." Here then is nothing but the in- 
discriminate offer again. Hebrews ii. 9 : " That He by the 
grace of God should taste death for every man." The phrase 
here is limited by the context. In the next verse they are 
called " many sons," wliom Christ intended to bring to glory; 
and in the eleventh verse they are spoken of as one with 
Him, and therefore " He is not ashamed to call them 
brethren." " Every man," therefore, must mean each of 
these " many sons and brethren," of whose salvation Christ 
is "the Captain." Such a limitation of the word ewr?/ is 
common in the Scriptures ; compare Gen. vii. 21 , Luke iv. 
37, Psalms cxix. 101 ; Prov. vii. 12. In all these passages 
— and multitudes of others might be mentioned — the word 
every is limited by the context or the necessity of the 
case. In Romans v. 18, Christ and Adam are spoken of as 
covenant heads. The Apostle is estal)lishing the principle of 
imputation, and illusti'ates our justification on account of 
Christ's merits by our condemnation on account of Adam's 
sin. The principle in both cases was the same — they were 
both federal representatives. The "all men," then, in one 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 171 

case means all who were represented by Adam in the cove- 
nant of works ; in the other, all who were represented by- 
Christ in the covenant of grace. The same may be said of 
1 Cor. XV. 22. 

The next passage may be found in 2 Cor. v. 14, 15 : '' For 
the love of Christ constraineth us ; because we thus judge 
that if one died for all, then were all dead ; and that He 
died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live 
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and 
rose again." To a candid mind this passage can present no 
serious difficulty. Two facts are stateel which serve mutually 
to explain and interpret each other — 1. Christ died for " all." 
2. The "all" for whom He died do not "henceforth live 
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and 
rose again." The result or end of Christ's death, as stated 
in the last verse, actually determines the meaning of the 
"all" in the fourteenth. Even Doddridge, one of the most 
cautious and timid interpreters of contested passages, has 
given substantially this interpretation in his paraphrase 
upon these verses : " For the love of Christ, so illustriously 
displayed in that redemption He hath wrought, constraineth 
us ; it bears us away like a strong and resistless torrent, 
while we thus judge, and in our calmest and most rational 
moments draw it as a certain consequence, from the import- 
ant principles which we assuredly know to be true, that 
if one, even Christ, died for tlie redemption and salvation of 
all who should sincerely believe in liini and obey Him, then were 
all dead. And now we know that He died for all, that they 
who live only in consequence of His dying love should not 
henceforth from this remarkable period and end of their 
lives, whatever they have formerly done, live to themselves, 
but that they should all agree that they will live to the 
honour, glory and interest of Him who died for them, and 
when He rose again from the dead retained the same affec- 
tion for them, and is continually improving Plis recovered 
life for their security and happiness." I have quoted this 
long paraphrase merely to show the mutual connection 



172 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

and dependence of the different parts of the passage, which 
require that the universal epithet sliould necessarily be 
limited/ 

The nineteenth verse of this same chapter is frequently 
pressed into the service of an unlimited atonement, but by 
a dreadful distortion of its real meaning. " God was in 
Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing 
their trespasses unto them, and hath committed unto us the 
word of reconciliation." Two circumstances in the context 
show that the Apostle is here speaking only of the Gospel 
offer, or the grant of Christ to sinners indefinitely as an all- 
sufficient Saviour. The phrase, " God was in Christ," etc., 
means that God, /or tlie sake of Christ, is willing to pardon 
all who appropriate the Saviour's merits. In other words, 
all who come to God in Christ — that is, by receiving Jesus 
as their mediator and intercessor — will find God a recon- 
ciled Father. This is the substance of the Gospel offer. 
Now, that this is the meaning of the Apostle appears plainly 
from the connection of this verse with the preceding, in 
which it is said that God " hath given to us the ministry of 
reconciliation — to wit, that God was in Christ," etc. The 
ministry of reconciliation, then, or the mere preaching of the 
Gospel, or the offer of salvation in and through Christ, is the 
Apostle's own explanation of the passage in question. This 
appears still more evident from tlie latter part of the nine- 
teenth verse itself: " And hath committed unto us the loord 
of reconciliation^ Hence the Apostle in the twentieth verse 
presses the Gospel invitation. The whole difficulty of the 
passage Avill disappear by simply recollecting that God is 
never a God in Christ to any but a believing sinner. To 
apprehend Him as a God in Christ is to apprehend Him by 
savino; faith in the merits of His Son. Hence God in 
Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, can mean noth- 

^ [Note by Editor. — In the discussion on the Necessity and Nature 
of Christianity immediately preceding the present, there may be found 
(pp. 87, 91) a fuller explanation by the author of this passage.] 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 173 

ing but God urging it upon sinners to believe. This j^as- 
sage, therefore, lends no support whatever to the dogma of 
universal atonement. It states only the universality of the 
external call of the Word, and the solemn duty of sinners 
to obey it. 

The next and last passage which I shall consider is 
John iii. 16 : "For God so loved the world that He gave 
His only-begotten Son, that whosoever belie veth in Him 
should not perish, but have eternal life." The idea whicli 
our Saviour here intended to convey is, that the indefinite 
offer of salvation in the Gospel is a testimony to the whole 
world of God's amazing love or grace. The offer of Christ 
and salvation in Him is often expressed by words which 
convey the general idea of an unconditional gift or grant.^ 
" My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" — that 
is, sets before you and invites you to partake. " I will also 
give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mavest be mv 
salvation unto the ends of the earth." " I will give Thee 
for a covenant of the people." Both of these passages 
seem to* refer to the universal publication of the Gospel. 
The offer of Christ is called a gift, because it conveys to 
sinners a fair, revealed right to receive and rest upon Him 
for all the purposes of salvation. Such an offer of a Saviour 
is a standing testimony to the whole world of God's unmer- 
ited grace. But there is not a word in this passage about a 
purpose or decree to save all indefinitely. On the contrary, 
the limitation of salvation in the close of the verse to 
believers only is a striking proof that God did not intend 
to save all. That the giving spoken of in the verse relates 
only to the Gospel offer is manifest from its being held out 
as the ground and warrant of faith ; the object of the gift 
is, "that whosoever believeth should not perish, but have 
eternal life." Now, as saving faith receives Christ " as lie 

^ [Note by Editor. — Dr. Thornwell, in after life, expressly condemned 
the view of the "Marrow men," that God the Father makes a "grant" 
of Christ as by a "deed of gift" to all men. Justice to him, therefore, 
might warrant the excision of this sentence.] 



174 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

is offerecV^ in the Gospel, it is manifest that this gift and 
the Gospel offer must be the same. 

The examination which has just been made of the favour- 
ite texts of the Arminian writers is sufficient, it is believed, 
to refute the dogma that God has any purpose, either con- 
ditional or unconditional, of saving all men indiscriminately. 
There is no revelation of any such intention in the Bible, 
so that it becomes frivolous and absurd to oppose election 
with any arguments whatever derived from this source. 

The next point in the objection is, that if God has no 
purpose of salvation toward all men, the invitations of the 
Gospel become only a mockery. God cannot possibly be 
sincere in the indiscriminate offer of salvation if He does 
not intend to bestow it upon each and every individual. 
This specious objection proceeds upon a gratuitous assump- 
tion that the external call of the Word conveys to every 
sinner to whom it is directed a specific intimation that God 
designs his own salvation in particular. But this is far 
from the truth. The Gospel oifer is not an expression of 
GofVs purposes or decrees, but a plain and intelligible ground 
of duty to man. It comes to no one and says, " You indi- 
vidually and particularly are included in God's purpose of 
saving mercy." If this were the nature of it, none could 
pretend to reconcile its acknowledged universality with the 
doctrines of election and reprobation. But this is so far 
from being the case that it simply gives to sinners a inght 
to believe ; it gives them an adequate foundation, a warrant- 
able ground for the exercise of faith. In other words, it is 
such a general, indefinite, unconditional grant of Christ in 
all His plenitude of grace as conveys to each and every sin- 
ner who hears the joyful sound an unquestionable right to 
appropriate and apply the Saviour in all His fullness to 
his own individual case without presumption or blasphemy. 
God, in the Gospel, holds up a Saviour in all respects suited 
to the fallen condition of man, and abundantly able to heal 
the diseases and relieve the miseries of every son and daugh- 
ter of Adam. The Divine nature of the adorable Redeemer 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 175 

stamps an infinite value upon His doings and sufferings, so 
that there can be no possible limitation of the all-sufficiency 
of Christ. Holding up this Saviour to sinners in the out- 
ward dispensation of the Gospel, God conveys to all indis- 
criminately a plain right to appropriate Christ for all the 
purposes of salvation, and at the same time solemnly assures 
men that all who do appropriate Him shall infallibly be 
saved. From all this the general object of the Gospel 
offer is sufficiently obvious : it is to afford a lawful ground 
for faith. Saving faith is measured by the offer of Christ 
in the Gospel, and no man could possibly be required to 
believe if he had no law^ful right to believe. The command 
of God is positive tliat all men should believe ; the Gospel 
offer comes in as a handmaid to the command, and g-ives all 
men adequate authority for believing. Now, in all this 
God may be perfectly sincere, while He has no purpose of 
actual salvation for all. He is sincere in oivino; the sinner 
a warrant to believe on Clirist, and God may certainly give 
such a warrant witliout giving the sinner a disposition to 
make use of it. God is sincere in all the promises of the 
Gospel, because He will assuredly fulfil them to all who 
scripturally embrace them — that is, embrace them as yea 
and amen in Christ, the great Trustee of the Covenant, for 
no promise is made separate and apart from Him. God is 
sincere in His invitations and entreaties, because He is only 
urging the sinner to the faithful discharge of solemn and 
imperative duty. And surely God as a Sovereign may 
require of man and urge upon him the performance of duty 
without duplicity or deceit, and yet withhold that strength 
which man has basely forfeited, and is now guilty for need- 
ing. If God gave sinners a right to believe on Christ, and 
then by creating a positive inability should debar them from 
believing, the Gospel offer would clearly be a mockery. 
But this is not the case. God makes no man an unbeliever. 
He commands and urges it upon all to believe, and debars 
none from an access to the throne of grace. They wickedly 
debar themselves, and the decree of reprobation leaves them 



176 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

to walk in the sight of their own eyes and the pride of tlieir 
own hearts. The Gospel oifer, combined with the positive 
command of God, renders the duty of believing imperative 
upon all, and therefore leaves every unbeliever utterly with- 
out excuse in the sight of God. An all-sufficient Saviour 
has been held up before him, abundantly able to save all 
that were ever invited to come ; a door of access has been 
opened to the throne of grace, so that he might have gone 
with boldness and sought for the mercy which he needed, 
with the certain prospect of obtaining it. His duty was 
plainly declared and solemnly enforced, and God put forth 
no influence ujion him to hold him from Christ, had he felt 
a disposition to go. He is therefore without excuse. But 
yet the doctrine of reprobation remains unaffected. God 
withheld grace which He was under no obligation to bestow, 
and left the sinner to perish in his sins. He opened the 
eyes of others to see the Saviour in His glory, and to read 
their own right to receive and appropriate Him in the rec- 
ord of the Word. Thus is election equally unaffected by 
the nature and design of the Gospel offer. 

Let it be borne in mind that the external call of the Gos- 
pel simply points out a ground of duty, and all difficulty is 
removed. This call merely represents God as a sovereign 
Legislator and man a dependent subject — a truth with 
which the doctrines of election and reprobation by no means 
interfere. This external call says not a syllable about the 
purposes of God in giving or withholding the grace of faith. 
But when the call is proclaimed among men indefinitely, 
then comes in election and persuades some to receive and 
obey it, while others are left utterly without excuse for refus- 
ing to do what they had a plain and unquestionable right 
to do, and were moreover solemnly bound to do. 

Secondly. The next leading class of objections to the sove- 
reignty of God comprehends those which are derived from 
the moral agency of man. They may be reduced to the fol- 
lowing heads : 1. Election is inconsistent with liberty, and 
consequently with accountability. 2. It destroys all solici- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 177 

tude about personal holiness. 3. It renders the means of 
grace entirely nugatory. These, I believe, are the most 
prominent ; at least, they are more frequently reiterated 
than any others of this class. I will answer them in order. 

1. Election is inconsistent with the moral agency and 
accountability of man. It will be remembered that this is 
one of the objections which the Apostle Paul notices in the 
ninth of Romans : " Thou wilt then say unto me. Why doth 
He yet find fault ? for who hath resisted His will ?" Ver. 19. 

That the decrees of God do render events absolutely cer- 
tain is beyond all doubt, but that they change the nature of 
second causes can never be made out. All that is necessary 
to constitute moral agency is to be a rational, intelligent 
being ; to possess the faculties and affections which invari- 
ably belong to spirit, and without which it would cease to 
be spirit. Now, election or Divine sovereignty, in its full- 
est extent, does not destroy the spiritual or intelligent nature 
of man, and consequently does not destroy what alone is 
essential to moral agency. Again, the decree of God does 
not force men to act contrary to their wills. They are con- 
scious of pursuing the bent of their own thoughts and of 
prosecuting their own plans. No man is dragged or reluc- 
tantly driven by the purpose of God into a course of con- 
duct which he does not choose to pursue. How then does 
the Divine decree make man a mere machine ? It is wholly 
a gratuitous assumption that the nature of second causes is 
at all changed by the purposes of God. Events are certain, 
the concurrence of causes in producing them is certain ; 
these things are determined, they must take place, there is 
no possibility of failure, but man still continues to be man 
notwithstanding the decree. 

In relation to the reprobate it is constantly denied by 
Calvinists that God puts forth a positive agency in creating 
their sinfulness. He does not make them sinners. He 
does not infuse into their hearts that moral turpitude and 
carnal enmity from which their actual rebellion proceeds. 
He ordains their actions as natural events by decreeing to 

Vol. II.— 12 



178 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

permit them, or by positively appointing them, but He does 
not originate the sinner's malignity and desperate aversion 
to holiness. He finds them in the decree of reprobation 
under the curse of a righteous law, and determines to leave 
them in their ruin and depravity. He finds them sinners 
and He leaves them sinners, with the settled purpose of 
inflicting upon them the merited penalty of death. Where 
is there any violence offered to their wills ? There is mani- 
festly none. They have all the freedom which their corrup- 
tion and depravity will permit them to possess. They walk 
in the " sight of their own eyes." " They kindle a fire and 
walk in the light of their own sj)arks." They love sin, 
and freely indulge in it because they love it. 

In reference to the elect, it is freely admitted that God by 
a positive and direct influence is the author of every holy 
aifection in their hearts. It is freely admitted that they are 
passive in effectual calling until being quickened by His 
grace they are enabled and inclined to answer the call. 
But still it is denied that any violence whatever is offered 
to their wills. This will appear by considering the separate 
elements of effectual calling.' (1.) "The minds of the elect 
are enlightened spiritually and savingly to understand the 
things of God." But surely the infusion of light into the 
soul does not destroy its nature, does not make that a slave 
which was free before. A new discernment of things does 
not affect the accountability of man which grows necessarily 
out of his relations to God. There is no reason why spirit- 
ual knowledge, any more than natural knowledge, should 
affect man's moral agency considered in its own intrinsic 
nature. Light in no sense can alter the spiritual constitu- 
tion of the subject enlightened. How preposterous, then, 
the idea that because man has spiritual light he ceases to be 
a moral agent ! 

(2.) The next element of effectual calling is, "taking 
away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh." 
This sentiment in Scripture is variously expressed, but the 
influence w^hich the Holy Spirit here puts forth is a creating 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 179 

influence. A new heart is created. Holy susceptibilities 
are originated which did not exist before. But surely crea- 
tion involves no contradiction to moral agency, otherwise no 
created being could be a moral agent. If the mere fact of 
creation destroyed moral agency, it would be impossible for 
God to make a moral agent. Besides, the new heart does 
not change the essence of the soul. 

(3.) The third element is " renewing their wills, and by 
His Almighty power determining them to that which is 
good." Nor is man's liberty at all infringed in this. Pre- 
viously to the operations of the Spirit man could Mali nothing 
but sin ; but his will is now renewed by an Almighty power, 
and determined to that which is good. Does the fact that 
man is inclined to good by a power which he has no disposi- 
tion to resist prove that he is not an accountable and moral 
being? If man were reluctantly driven to the choice of 
good, he would cease to act freely — that is, in conformity 
with existing dispositions ; but when man delights in what 
is good, no matter from what cause this delight may have 
originated, he acts freely in choosing it. 

(4.) The last element is, " eifectually drawing them to 
Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made 
willing by His grace." To this no objection can be raised, 
as it flatly asserts man's freeness and willingness in receiving 
Christ. I apj)rehend that the cause of difficulty with many 
lies in an oversight of the fact that man is passive in regen- 
eration, though active in believing. He is the subject of a 
Divine influence ; and therefore it is no more reasonable to 
suppose that his essential constitution is changed by being 
acted upon by God than in any other case of external influ- 
ence. It is true that the influence which God puts forth is 
efficient ; it secures the intended result, but it is just as true 
that man acts freely and spontaneously, since the result 
intended was to determine the will to good. Previously to 
the operations of the Spirit, the man \vas dead; he could 
perform no spiritual action at all. God infuses into him 
spiritual life. Now this implies no violence. In conse- 



180 ELECTION AND REPEOBATTON. 

quence of this life being infused into his soul, he now freely 
chooses and embraces that which is good. And here there 
is no violence. AVhere, then, is the inconsistency between 
Divine influence and moral agency ? 

There is a sense in which moral agency is attributed to 
man which, I freely confess, is irreconcilable with election. 
It consists in making man's will the sole originating cause 
of his actions, without any regard to existing dispositions or 
extraneous influences. The theory is, that the will can and 
does determine itself; that the only reason why man adopts 
one mode of action and not another is that his will, in con- 
sequence of its own inherent power, so determined itself. 
There is no such thing on this scheme as choice, deliberation, 
disposition ; the will is arbitrary and sovereign, and submits 
to no influence out of itself. To this theory there are insu- 
perable objections : 1st. It makes man Avholly independent 
of God. The Supreme Being has no more control over the 
actions of His creatures, according to this system, than if He 
did not exist. The only dependence which they can feel 
upon Him is simply for preservation. 2dly. It is incon- 
sistent with accountability. As well might a weather-cock 
be held responsible for its lawless motions as a being whose 
arbitrary, uncontrollable will is his only law. What can 
the man account for? His actions have arisen from no 
moral considerations whatever ; he acted because he acted ; 
and this is the only account he can give. 3dly. It makes 
man the author of his own spiritual renovation. Divine 
grace, on this scheme, is not efficient ; it does nothing. 
Everything depends upon the sinner's arbitrary will. God 
may expostulate, and warn, and send His Spirit to operate 
on the heart, but all in vain unless the sinner's will should 
determine itself to Christ and salvation ; in other words, 
unless the sinner should convert himself. These are a speci- 
men of the difficulties involved in this absurd theory of 
moral agency, which strictly implies only that man is not a 
fit subject for a government of laws. 

The S(Tiptures are explicit in stating the unconditional 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 181 

decrees of God in connection with the responsibility and 
moral agency of" men. There was a plain decree in regard 
to the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
yet under that decree the agency of man was exerted in 
deeds of darkness. So far was this decree from annulling 
human responsibility that fearful guilt was incurred by the 
Jews, and tremendous sufferings inflicted upon them. 
" Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and 
foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands 
have crucified and slain." Acts ii. 23. " For, of a truth, 
against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, 
both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and peo- 
ple of Israel, were gathered together for to do whatsoever 
Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done." 
Acts iv. 27, 28. ^ow here it is expressly said that the 
enemies of our Lord acted only " according to the determi- 
nate counsel and foreknowledge of God," and did only what 
His " hand and His counsel determined before to be done," 
and yet they are charged with guilt and wickedness : " ye 
have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain," 
Hence, the Apostle was clearly of opinion that the absolute 
and sovereign predestination of God did not take away 
responsibility from man or remove the guilt of his transgres- 
sions. All the difficulties involved in the doctrine, or that 
have ever been charged upon it, are involved in, and with 
equal propriety may be charged upon, this particular case. 
Election to grace is no stronger a feature of the absolute 
predestination of God than the death and sufferings of 
Christ ; and if all the circumstances connected with the one 
could be positively decreed and rendered absolutely certain, 
consistently with the liberty of moral and rational agents, 
then all the circumstances connected with the other may also 
be determined without the destruction or infringement of the 
agency of man. 

If efficient Divine influence is inconsistent with moral 
agency, then men can never be confirmed in holiness beyond 
the grave without ceasing to be moral agents. God cannot 



182 EI.ECTION AND EEPROBATION. 

secure their holiness in heaven consistently with their 
Hberty, any more than He can determine their actions here. 
The difficulty grows out of the sinner's own mind — his own 
liberty of moral action ; and so long as that liberty continues, 
the same difficulty must continue. Upon the Arminian 
hypothesis, then, it is a possible, if not a probable, case, that 
a soul may have basked for myriads and myriads of years in 
the rays of eternal glory, and then fall, and fall like Lucifer, 
never to rise again — suddenly exchanging its shouts cf praise 
and alleluia for the wail of the damned, and dropping the song 
of redeeming love for the gnashing of teeth and the fiend- 
like yell of despair. These monstrous results necessarily 
grow out of the position that election and moral agency are 
incompatible, and carry along with them so complete a 
denial of many promises of Scripture as at once to over- 
throw the fundamental position on which they depend. 
What then ? We are compelled to receive election with its 
inevitable concomitant, moral necessity, or resort to wild 
and revolting theories of free-will with their cumbrous train 
of absurdity and nonsense. We are compelled to receive a 
moral agency which is consistent with a moral necessity, or 
adopt a hypothesis which destroys accountability at once. I 
cannot forbear to mention here that the difficulty presses 
just as hard in another form against the Arminians. They 
deny the Divine decrees, but admit the essential omnis- 
cience of God. Events, therefore, are certain ; they must 
happen just as God knows that they will happen ; they can- 
not possibly happen otherwise. Here, tlien, is a moral neces- 
sity just as strong as the moral necessity of the Calvinists. 
But they reply that God does not produce the events. It is a 
question of no manner of importance how the events are pro- 
duced ; the difficulty lies in this, that they are necessarily pro- 
duced. Arminians cannot evade it ; their system involves 
moral necessity as much as ours ; and it is as much their 
business as ours to reconcile this necessity with moral agency. 
2. The next objection of this class is that election destroys 
all solicitude about personal holiness. It reduces men to a 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 183 

system of such stern necessity that there is no reason at all 
why they should be concerned about their personal salva- 
tion. It will be seen that this difficulty grows out of the 
former. I shall make but two or three remarks upon it — 
(1.) As the nature of second causes is not at all changed by 
the Divine decree, the duties of man to God are just the 
same that they would be if there were no election in the 
case. Man's relations to his Maker are the same; he is 
still a creature and a subject. The connection of obedience 
and life is the same, and all the motives to activity and dili- 
gence remain unchanged. With none of these things do 
the decrees of God interfere. How then can election destroy 
solicitude about personal salvation? It cannot justly do it 
without destroying the inseparable connection between holi- 
ness and happiness, and the duty of man to obey his sove- 
reign. Exhortations are useful and proper, because man 
ought to obey, and will be abundantly rewarded if he does. 
(2.) It would contradict the very nature and design of elec- 
tion if it made men careless and indifferent. The end con- 
templated by election is holiness. The decree is that the 
chosen ones shall believe, repent, be humble and exemplary in 
their walk and conversation, and yet this has a tendency to 
make them stupid, unconcerned and indifferent ! Because 
it is decreed that a man shall believe, therefore he will not 
believe ; because it is decreed that he shall be holy, therefore 
he will be profligate and abandoned. What absurdity ! 
So long as holiness continues to be an indispensable element 
of salvation, the election to grace cannot be an election to 
sin. Election as much involves the certainty of personal 
holiness as it does the certainty of heaven. (3.) My third 
remark is, that it has directly a contrary tendency, and that 
in several respects. It is an acknowledged principle of 
human nature that when great interests are at stake deep 
solicitude is felt by men, if there is only a bare possibilit}' 
that they may be personally concerned. If the means of 
knowing whether or not they are in fact concerned be within 
their power, they will resort to them with eager avidity. 



184 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

This is a plain principle of human nature. Apply this to 
the case in hand. Here are solemn and commanding- into- 
rests at stake. Heaven or hell will infallibly be the lot of 
every child of Adam. Here are the means of knowing, in 
the inspired volume, with certainty whether I am predesti- 
nated to eternal life. If I really believed all this, I would 
shake heaven and earth in the great commotion ; I would 
give no sleep to my eyes nor slumber to my eyelids till I 
had settled this solemn point. Just let me realize the cei'- 
tainty that heaven or hell is my portion, and I could no more 
fold my arms under the bare possibility of going to hell, 
while there was a prospect of escape, than I could take my 
ease on a burning volcano. The certainty of one doom, but 
the uncertainty in regard to wliich^ has a natural tendency 
to rouse the soul into vigorous efforts to throw off the 
pangs of suspense. 

If the Scriptures pointed out by name and surname the 
individuals elected and reprobated, there would be some 
foundation for the objection, but they do no such thing. 
They simply tell men that they belong to one class or the 
other, and add as an encouragement to effort that those who 
comply with the prescribed plan of salvation are certainly 
elected. Hence they call upon us to make our "calling 
and election sure" by receiving the Saviour and walking in 
the way of His commandments. None know that they are 
reprobates, and therefore none can know that their efforts 
will be useless. I am fully satisfied that if men had a 
deeper and more impressive sense of the truth of this doc- 
trine, there would be more earnest inquiry and serious alarm 
among the careless and impenitent. But the misfortune is 
that they do not Jeel the astounding certainty that heaven 
or hell is theirs. They are radically Arminians ; they have 
the keys of both kingdoms in the pocket of their own free- 
will, and rest satisfied under the full but delusive impres- 
sion that they can determine the matter just when they please. 

In reference to those who know that they are elected, it 
cannot be maintained that election has a tendency to lull 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 185 

them into carnal security, unless it is also maintained that a 
deej) and clear sense of God's love to us has a tendency to 
call forth only hatred to Him. This would be to make a 
Christian not only depraved, but unnatural in consequence 
of conversion. The biography of the saints furnishes a run- 
ning commentary upon the happy moral influence of Cal- 
vinism in quickening and invigorating the graces of the 
Spirit, and some Arminians have been candid enough to 
confess that the charge of licentiousness is the offspring of 
ignorance. It is obvious, in fact, that there are some graces 
of the Christian character which a cordial belief of elec- 
tion is wonderfully suited to cherish. 

(1.) " We love Him because He first loved us." " With- 
out the doctrine of predestination," says Zanchius, " we can- 
not enjoy a lively sight and experience of God's special love 
and mercy towards us in Christ Jesus. Blessings not pecu- 
liar, but conferred indiscriminately on every man without 
distinction or exception, would neither be a proof of pecu- 
liar love in the donor, nor calculated to excite peculiar won- 
der and gratitude in the receiver. For instance, rain from 
heaven, though an invaluable benefit, is not considered as an 
argument of God's special and peculiar favour to some indi- 
viduals above others, because it falls on all alike, as much 
on the rude wilderness and the barren rock as on tlie culti- 
vated garden and fruitful field. But the blessing of elec- 
tion, somewhat like the Sibylline books, rises in value pro- 
portionably to the fewness of its objects. From a sense of 
God's peculiar, eternal and unchangeable love to His peo- 
ple their hearts are inflamed to love Him in return. Slen- 
der indeed will be my motives to the love of God on the 
supposition that my love to Hhn is beforehand with His to 
me, and that the very continuance of His favour is sus- 
i)endcd on the weather-cock of my variable will, or on the 
flimsy thread of my imperfect afl*ection. Such a precarious, 
dependent love were unworthy of God, and fitted to pro- 
duce but scanty and cold reciprocation of love from man. 
Would you know what it is to love God as your Father, 



186 ELECTION AJSTD REPROBATION. 

Friend and Saviour, you must fall down before His electing 
mercy. Till then you are only hovering about in quest of 
true felicity. But you will never find the door, much less 
can you enter into rest, till you are enabled to love Him 
because He hath first loved you." It is manifest that a 
doctrine so friendly to the love of God cannot be unfriendly 
to universal obedience, "for love is the fulfilling of tlie Law." 
The man who sincerely loves God, as a matter of course, 
will desire conformity to His image, and as " electing good- 
ness is the very life and soul of love to God, good works 
must flourish or decline in proportion as election is glori- 
fied or obscured." 

(2.) This doctrine is peculiarly favourable to the cultiva- 
tion of humility, and that in two respects. 1st. It lays the 
axe at the root of all human merit, and ascribes to sovereign, 
unmerited grace the whole glory of our salvation. It is 
found from experience that the legality of the heart presents 
a formidable barrier to the reception of the Gospel. Men's 
performances are so essential to their own self-complacency 
that it is hard to persuade them that all their righteousnesses 
are as filthy rags, and that salvation is not the reward of 
debt, but the gift of grace. This very natural pride of the 
carnal heart can be humbled or removed by no truth so 
eifectually as the doctrine of election. When this is brought 
home upon their minds, men can then understand that " it 
is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of 
God that showeth mercy." It strips them of all pretensions 
to merit, shows them their deep and loathsome unworthiiiess, 
and prostrates their souls in the very dust of self-abasement. 
The following remarks of Zanchius are forcible and appro- 
priate : " Conversion and salvation must, in the very nature 
of the things, be wrought and effected either by ourselves 
alone, or by ourselves and God together, or solely by God 
Himself. Pelagians were for the first, the Arminians are 
for the second, true believers are for the last, because the 
last hypothesis, and that only, is built on the strongest evi- 
dence of reason, Sci-ipture, and experience. It most effect- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 187 

ually hides pride from man, and sets the crown of undivided 
praise upon the head — or, rather, casts it at the feet — of that 
glorious Triune God ' who worketh all in all.' But this 
is a crown which no sinners ever yet cast before the throne 
of God who were not first led into the transporting views 
of His gracious decree to save freely, and of His own will, 
the people of His eternal love." 2dlY. This doctrine is not 
oidy favourable to humility by counteracting a legal spirit, 
but it is the very soul of dependence on Divine influence. 
The importance which the Scriptures attach to an uniform, 
habitual dependence on the grace of God sufficiently appears 
from the frequent and earnest exhortations to cultivate such 
a disposition ; and if indeed it be so that the Holy Spirit is 
the source of all pious and devout affections, this dependent 
temper is the only one which is consistent with a Christian's 
true condition or his relations to God. Emptied as we are 
by election of all that cannot abide the scrutiny of heaven, 
we are pointed to inexhaustible treasures at God's right 
hand, which are bestow^ed only upon those who habitually 
depend upon His grace. Blind, naked and miserable in 
ourselves, we take the counsel of the Holy Sj^irit and lean 
upon the Lord for all that we need. Self-annihilation, as 
Luther calls it, is the mainspring of uniform dependence 
upon grace ; and whatever has a tendency to drive us out 
of ourselves has likewise a tendency to drive us to God. 

(3.) The doctrine of election affords great encouragement 
to prayer. 1st. Because prayer is the natural expression of 
dependence upon Divine influences. 2dly. Because election 
represents the grace of God as efficient. There would be no 
motive to pray for spiritual blessings if our groA\i;h in grace 
depended upon our own free wills and not upon the Spirit of 
God. If Divine grace exerted no invincible efficacy in sub- 
duing sin, mortifying lust and invigorating the principles of 
piety, it would be hard to determine why the life of a Christian 
should be a life of habitual, unceasing prayer. 3dly. Elec- 
tion is favourable to prayer, because it represents it as a gift 
of God, and as the appointed medium of receiving Divino 



188 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

blessings. When God decrees to bestow a blessing upon 
His people, He decrees also to give them the Spirit of prayer 
and supplication, so that when they find this Spirit poured 
out upon them they have every encouragement from the 
usual order of Divine providence to " ask in faith, nothing 
doubting." 

(4.) This doctrine is the sole foundation of a full assur- 
ance of faith. It is the duty and privilege of Christians 
not only to be assured of their present acceptance with God, 
but also of their future, everlasting salvation. But this 
assurance they never could possess if j ustification, sanctifi- 
cation and glorification were not inseparably connected in 
the Divine decree. That such an assurance is in the high- 
est degree friendly to piety is manifest from the fact that 
faith itself, even in its lowest exercises, works by love and 
purifies the heart. 

Such are some of the obvious tendencies of election. I 
have said nothing of the support which it yields in afflic- 
tion and distress, the patience and submission with which it 
inspires the soul in the gloomiest hours of adversity, and 
the strong consolation it administers to the dying saint when 
struggling in the pangs of death. Enough has been said, 
however, to show that its tendencies are all in favour of 
godliness, and I regard it as no proof of the spirituality of 
the present age that amid our bustle and excitement so little 
is said of this precious doctrine of the Gospel. 

That wicked and profiine persons have perverted it to 
tlieir own eternal undoing I have no disposition to deny. 
So has every doctrine of the Gospel been perverted. The 
difficulty is not in the doctrine, but in the heart ; swine will 
trample on a jewel be it ever so precious. 

3. The last objection under this head is that election ren- 
ders the means of grace perfectly nugatory. If the elect 
are to be' saved they will- be saved, let them do what they 
will ; if the reprobate arc to be damned they will be damned, 
let them do what they may. This objection involves a con- 
tradiction. Salvation implies faith, and repentance, and 



ELECTION AXD REPROBATION. 189 

holiness, and it is perfect nonsense to say that men may 
believe and repent let them be as skeptical and profligate as 
they may. Faith necessarily supposes the Word, which is 
the only ground of faith, and the Word is usually dispensed 
by preaching, and hence the indispensable necessity of an 
instituted ministry. God's decrees are accomplished through 
the medium of second causes, and the means of grace are 
the appointed channels through which He dispenses the 
blessings of the Gospel. They are a necessary part of the 
decree. When God determines to save He determines to 
send His Word and ordinances, and to render them effi- 
cacious by the mighty operation of His Spirit. There is 
no inconsistency in this. God decrees to send rain upon 
the earth, but He first collects the vapours into clouds. A 
caviller might say, if it is to rain it will rain, whether 
there be any clouds or not. 

The means of grace in themselves have no efficiency. 
They cannot convert a single soul ; all their efficacy is 
derived from God and from His electing grace. They are 
valuable only because He has decreed them as the medium 
of His blessings. But yet it would seem as if the objectors 
supposed that the means of grace possess in themselves an 
inherent efficacy, for how else can election be opposed to 
them ? I shall conclude this head with two extracts from 
Zanchius : " They who are predestinated to life are like- 
wise predestinated to all those means which are indispens- 
ably necessary in order to their meetness for entrance upon 
and enjoyment of that life, such as repentance, faith, sancti- 
fication and perseverance in these to the end. Now, though 
faith and holiness are not represented as the cause wherefore 
the elect are saved, yet these are constantly represented as 
the means through which they are saved, or as the appointed 
way wherein God leads His elect to glory, these blessings 
being always bestowed previously to that. Agreeable to 
all which is that of Austin : ' Whatsoever persons are, 
through the riches of Divine grace, exempted from the 
original sentence of condemnation are undoubtedly brought 



190 ELECTION AND EEPROBATION. 

to hear the Gospel, and when heard, they are canscd to 
believe.'" The next extract is more to the point: " Tliat 
absohite predestination does not set aside nor render suj)er- 
fluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc., Ave prove from 
the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all 
taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and 
yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners, and 
enforced their ministry with proper rebukes, invitations 
and exhortations as occasion required. Though they showed 
unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies 
entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of them- 
selves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who 
of His own pleasure works in them both to will and to do, 
yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as being 
possessed of reason and conscience, nor omit to remind them 
of their duties as such. Our Saviour Himself expressly and 
in terminis assures us that no man can come to Him except 
the Father draw him, and yet He says, Come unto me, all 
ye that labour. St. Paul declares it is not of him that will- 
eth nor of him that runneth, and yet exhorts the Corinth- 
ians so to run as to obtain the prize. He assures us that we 
know not what to pray for as we ought, and yet directs us 
to pray without ceasing. St. James, in like manner, says 
that every good and perfect gift cometh down from above, 
and exhorts those who want wisdom to ask it of God. So, 
then, all these being means whereby the elect are frequently 
enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they 
are, after they have believed through grace, bnilt up in 
Him, and being means of their perseverance in grace to 
the end, they are so far from being vain and insignificant 
that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many 
valuable and important ends without in the least shaking 
the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy 
of faith in general." 

We have now given what was promised at the outset : 
1. A plain statement of the doctrine of Election as held by 
the Presbyterian Church. 2. A vindication of its truth by 



ELECTION AND EEPROBATION. 191 

an appeal to the Scriptures. And, 3. We have answered, as 
we hope satisfactorily, the leading and prominent objections 
of those who are opposed to Calvinism. The Essay must 
now stand or fall by its own merits. If it maintains the 
doctrines of the Bible, it is a comfort to think that God will 
take care of His own truth, whatever may become of this 
feeble effort to defend it ; if the doctrines here advanced are 
false, the sooner they fall to the ground the better. Noth- 
ing now remains to complete our design but the deduction 
of a few obvious inferences. 

1. This doctrine pre-eminently glorifies God, and that 
in several respects. (1.) It glorifies the independence and 
omnipotence of the Divine will. Every other scheme ren- 
ders the plans and purposes of God in some measure dejjend- 
ent upon the conduct and determinations of his creatures, 
and Arminians have no hesitation' in avowing that the 
designs of God are susceptible of failure, although He 
solemnly declares, " INIy counsel shall stand, and I will do all 
my pleasure." It is the will of God, we are told, that each 
and every man should be saved. The fact that all are not, 
and will not be, saved, shows one of two things — either that 
God could not accomplish His own design, or that the 
Divine will is dependent on the will of the creature. Hence 
God either has no settled purpose of His own, or is unable 
to carry it out as He would wish. This is the necessary 
and unavoidable consequence of conditional decrees ; they 
virtually dethrone God by making the volitions of man of 
equal importance in the government of the world with His 
own. They destroy at once His independence and omnipo- 
tence. But the doctrine of predestination ascribes to God 
that which unquestionably belongs to Him, the supreme 
disposal of all events " according to the counsel of His own 
will." " Our God is in the heavens. He hath done what- 
soever He hath pleased. There is none that can stay His 
hand or say unto him. What doest Thou ?" Creation and 
Providence are nothing but the actual evolutions in time 
of the secret purpose which lay in the bosom of God from 



192 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

all eternity. There is nothing fortuitous, nothing apciden- 
tal, nothing unexpected, because nothing does or can take 
place M^hich has not been previously determined by " the 
counsel and foreknowledge of God." While God as yet 
existed alone, supremely glorious in Himself, before one 
particle of matter had been called into being or a solitary 
soul was found to adore and reverence the perfection of 
Deity, He scanned in the light of an infallible omniscience 
and fixed by the power of an immutable decree all objects 
and events, whether small or great, whether grand or 
minute. He simply wills, and emptiness and desolation 
become peopled with a thousand inhabitants of a thousand 
ranks and gradations of being, the wheels of Providence 
begin to roll, and every creature, whether small or great, 
organic or inorganic, material or intelligent, walks in the 
track which an eternal purpose had settled and arranged. 
"According, therefore, to the Scripture representation," 
says Toplady, " Providence neither acts vaguely and at 
random, like a blind archer who shoots uncertainly in the 
dark as well as he can, nor yet pro re nata, or as the unfore- 
seen exigence of aifairs may require ; like some blundering 
statesman who plunges, it may be, his country and himself 
into difficulties, and then is forced to unravel his cobweb 
and reverse his plan of operations as the best remedy for 
those disasters M^hich the court-spider had not the wisdom to 
foresee. But shall we say this of God ? 'Twere blasphemy ! 
He that dwelleth in the heavens laugheth all these mise- 
rable afterthoughts to scorn. God who can neither be 
overreached nor overpowered has all these post-expedients 
in derision. He is incapable of mistake. He knows no 
levity of will. He cannot be surprised with any unforeseen 
inconveniences. ' His throne is in heaven, and His king- 
dom ruleth over all.' Whatever, therefore, comes to pass, 
comes to pass as a part of the original plan, and is the off- 
spring of that prolific series of causes and effects which 
owes its birth to the ordaining and permissive will of Him 
in whom ' we all live, and move, and have our bein^.' 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 193 

Providence in time is the hand that delivers God's purpose 
of those beings and events with which that purpose was 
pregnant from everlasting." All events hang upon the nod 
of Jehovah, while His purposes and plans are dependent 
upon nothing but the " unsearcha])le counsel of His own 
will." He is the mighty Ruler of the universe, and His 
ivill, His eternal purpose, is supreme and irresistible through 
all the boundless ranges of existence. Amid the seeming- 
irregularity and confusion which distract the Avorld, amid 
all the fiiilures in human schemes and calculations wliich 
are daily taking place, amid the horrors of war, the fall of 
kingdoms and the ruins of empire, there is one grand, 
unchangeable purpose which never fails, but which meets 
its accomplishment alike in the frustration or success of all 
other purposes. Every event in nature or in grace is simply 
an evolution of that grand purpose ; and could the thread 
of this purpose be traced by the limited intellect of man in 
all its bearings and relations, chaos would exhibit regularity, 
and order and harmony would rise from confusion. In fact, 
the glory of the Divine independence and omnipotence is so 
inseparably connected with predestination that even Unita- 
rians when describing the Divine majesty forget their sys- 
tem and substantially acknowledge the fundamental princi- 
ples of Calvinism. They cannot portray the majesty of 
God without it. Hence the following extract from Buck- 
minster's Sermon on Providence need not surprise us : 
" How inexpressibly great is that Being who penetrates at 
once the recesses and circumscribes within Himself the 
boundless ranges of Creation ; who pierces into the profound 
meditations of the most sublime intelligence above with the 
same ease that He discerns the wayward projects of the child ; 
who knows equally the abortive imaginations and tlie wisest 
plans of every creature that ever has thought or ever will 
think throughout the realms of intellect ! How wonderful 
is that power which wields with equal ease the mightiest 
and the feeblest agents, directs the resistless thunder-bolt, 
or wafts a feather through the air ; bursts out in the im- 
VoL. II.— 13 



194 ELECTION AND PvEPROBATION. 

prisoned lava, or rests on the peaceful bosom of the lake ; 
rides on the rapid whirlwind, or whispers in the evening 
air ! Think, I pray you, of that wisdom which conducts at 
the same moment the innumerable purposes of all His crea- 
tures, and whose own grand purpose is equally accomplished 
by the failure or success of all the plans of all His creatures. 
Think of Him under whom all agents operate, because by 
Him all beings exist. Think of Him who has but to will 
it, and all moving Nature pauses in her course, chaos suc- 
ceeds to the liarmony of innumerable spheres and eternal 
darkness overwhelms this universe of light. Yet in the 
midst of darkness His throne is stable and all is light about 
the seat of God ! " It is really amazing that any one who has 
correct apprehensions of the moral character of God should 
be at all opposed to the supremacy and independence of 
His righteous will. Supremely just, and wise, and holy, it 
ought to be a matter of thanksgiving and joy that such a 
Being controls the armies of heaven and the hosts of earth, 
and all should join the shout of the redeemed in glory, 
" Hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth !" 

(2.) This doctrine not only glorifies the omnipotence and 
independence of God's will, but furnishes an illustrious dis- 
play of His grace. The Scriptures represent the grace and 
mercy of God as the only sources from which all our bless- 
ings are derived, and particularly the saving blessings of 
the Gospel. We are everywhere described in the Bible as 
having no claim upon God, but as being justly exposed to 
His wrath and curse. Polluted and defiled by nature, we 
are under a righteous sentence of condemnation, and all 
holy beings would approve the severity of the Divine judg- 
ment, if we, like the devils, were eternally cut oif from all 
hope of pardon or acceptance. This is the natural state of 
every soul of man, and this is the light in which God saw 
us when the purpose of salvation went forth in favour of 
His elect. He saw them in their blood, and when nothing 
could have been justly expected but vengeance and death. 
He said unto them, " Live.'" Here was ^race — pure, unmer- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 195 

ited favour — breaking through all the barriers of their 
depravity and guilt, and yearning toward them with an 
amazing purpose of redemption and life. But the ques- 
tions might well have been asked, "How shall I put thee 
among the children ?" " How shall I reconcile the con- 
flicting claims of grace and justice and prepare my elect for 
an inheritance among them that are holy?" Here grcwe 
becomes still more wonderful. It pitches upon the eternal 
Son, the second person of the adorable Trinity, and enters 
into a solemn covenant transaction with Him to redeem, and 
sanctify, and save. He undertakes, as the Substitute and 
Surety of the elect, in the fullness of time to become their 
kinsman by being born of a woman ; to humble Himself 
by being found in fashion as a man ; to obey the law as a 
covenant in their name, and to bring in an everlasting 
righteousness ; to redeem them from its awful curse by being 
made a curse for them ; and to satisfy completely in their 
behalf all the claims of justice and of law, so that God 
consistently with His adorable perfections could regard 
them with an eye of favour and acceptance. The next step 
in this glorious economy of grace is the mission of the Holy 
Spirit to apply the purchased redemption to the hearts of 
the elect by His efficient, almighty operations. Here, then, 
is an astonishing display of grace, such as can consist with 
no other doctrine but that of election. Here is a chain of 
Divine love reaching from the great decree of salvation in 
the counsels of eternity to its full accomplishment in the 
regions of glory. Not one link of this golden chain hangs 
upon human merit — all, all from first to last is pure, unmer- 
ited grace. No wonder that the Apostle, in speaking of 
election, breaks forth into doxologies, for that doctrine 
erects an eternal monument to the glory of God's grace. 
It brings down every lofty imagination, abases every high 
thought that exalts itself against God, and issues forth the 
solemn and peremptory edict that " no flesh shall glory in 
His presence." " But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus who 
of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sane- 



196 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

tification, and redemption, that according as it is written, he 
that glorieth let him glory in the Lord." "Blessed be the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed 
us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ 
Jesus, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the 
foundation of the world, to the praise of the glory of His 
grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." 
This grace becomes remarkably conspicuous, because it is 
confined to the elect. Such a limitation of its objects shows 
in the light of undeniable reality its utter undeservedness. 
Had it been promiscuously extended to all, its freeness could 
not have been so remarkably displayed, but by being with- 
held from some the demerit of all is unanswerably estab- 
lished, and just in proportion as that is established the free- 
ness of Divine grace is exalted. It is a flimsy cavil that 
grace to be infinite must include every possible object ; then, 
verily, the devils would be saved. The plain truth is that 
the Divine attributes are all infinite only as they exist in 
God, and not in relation to the number or extent of the 
objects on which they are exercised. 

(3.) This doctrine glorifies God's justice. " But what if 
God, willing to show His wa^ath and to make His power 
known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of 
wrath fitted to destruction?" Romans ix. 22. "The two 
objects," says Professor Hodge, " which Paul here specifies 
as designed to be answered by the punishment of the wicked, 
are the manifestation of the wrath of God and the exhibition 
of His power. The word wj^ath is used here as in chapter i. 
18, for the Divine displeasure against sin, the calm and holy 
disapprobation of evil, joined with the determination to 
punish those who commit it. Though the inherent ill desert 
of sin must ever be regarded as the primary ground of the 
infliction of punishment — a ground which would remain in 
full force were no beneficial results anticipated from the 
misery of the wicked — yet God has so ordered His govern- 
ment that the evils which sinners incur shall result in the 
manifestation of His character, and the consequent promo- 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 197 

tion of the holiness and happiness of His intelligent creatures 
throughout eternity." I would only add that if sin be an 
infinite evil, the Divine displeasure against it must be signal 
and consjiicuous ; but if God had included the whole human 
race in His gracious purpose of salvation, it might be a ques- 
tion whether mercy had not eclipsed justice. But by gra- 
ciously electing some and passing by others the Divine jus- 
tice is doubly manifested : First, in the sufferings and death 
of Christ as the Substitute of the elect ; and, secondly, in the 
persons of the reprobate themselves. But be this as it may, 
the punishment of the wicked can never be regarded as 
otherwise than just; and so long as God continues to be 
supremely holy and opposed to sin, it cannot be thought 
strange that the terrors of His wrath should overtake the 
guilty. 

I have now shown, in these few and simple observations, 
that the doctrine of Election glorifies God, particularly His 
independence, omnipotence, grace and justice. But I do not 
mean to insinuate that God elected one and rejected another 
for the purjiose of merely displaying His character. This is 
the natural and obvious result, but it by no means follows 
that this was the cause. On the contrary, it is the plain and 
undeniable doctrine of the Scriptures that " His counsels are 
unsearchable, and His ways past finding out." The reasons 
of the Divine procedure are the secret things which are 
known only to Himself We know facts, and in many cases 
we can trace results ; but we " know not the mind of the 
Lord," and cannot, without arrogance and presumption, un- 
dertake to inquire into the why and the wherefore of the 
Divine administration. He simply declares that He " work- 
etli all things according to the counsel of His own will." 
This is all that He has revealed, and it is all that Ave are 
able to ascertain. When we reach the will of God we must 
stop ; we can go no farther. Why He wills so and so is a 
question which we are utterly unable to solve, and it is dark- 
ening counsel by words without knowledge when we pre- 
sume to prate about the general good of the universe and 



198 ELECTION AND REPEOBATION. 

the greatest happiness of the greatest number. No doubt 
God has reasons for the conduct of His government, but we 
know them not; His will is law to us and the utmost 
boundary of our knowledge. Manifestly, the efficient cause 
of election and reprobation, in the Scriptures, is referred only 
to the sovereign will of Jehovah, as has been proved already 
at considerable length. But we should by no means con- 
found this with the final cause or natural result which is 
certainly the manifestation of His glory ; or, as the Confes- 
sion of Faith expresses it, election is " to the praise of His 
glorious grace," and reprobation " to the praise of His glo- 
rious justice." By observing this necessary distinction 
between efficient and final causes we shall sail clear of the 
dangerous quicksands of Hopkinsian error. 

2. The second inference which I would deduce from this 
doctrine is the infallible perseverance of the saints. This 
results necessarily from the immutability of God. His 
counsel shall stand — His will cannot be defeated, and there- 
fore all the objects of His special love must necessarily be 
saved. The certainty of election is the ground of Paul's 
triumphant assurance in the eighth of Romans : " Who shall 
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or 
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or 
sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than con- 
querors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded 
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor 
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to 
separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus 
our Lord." 

3. The next inference which may safely be drawn is the 
doctrine of limited atonement. We have seen that God has 
no purpose of salvation to all — that He has no design what- 
ever of saving the whole human race ; and, therefore, it is 
preposterous to suppose that the satisfaction of His Son was 
specifically intended for each and every individual. No 
doubt it is sufficient, because, in consequence of the union of 



ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 199 

the two natures in the person of Christ, His sufferings pos- 
sess an infinite value. No one denies the abundant sufficiency 
of Christ's merits to save this world and ten thousand others ; 
but the question is, whether or not the satisfaction of the 
Saviour was designed for any but His own elect — whether it 
was rendered in the name of any others, or was intended to 
be available to their salvation? Now, if the doctrine of 
election and reprobation be true, such an unlimited design 
would appear to be impossible. How can God intend to save 
those toward whom He has no purpose of salvation ? The 
two doctrines are wholly irreconcilable, — if election and rep- 
robation be true, universal atonement must fall to the ground ; 
if universal atonement be true, then election must be blotted 
from the pages of the Bible. As a matter of course, I speak 
of the work of Christ in the light of a satisfaction to Divine 
justice — the only light in which it is regarded in the word 
of God. As to that refined system of error which makes the 
atonement of Christ nothing but a pompous pageant, to amaze 
and astonish a gazing universe, this is not the place to refute 
its vapouring pretensions. It is at best a mere creature of 
the fancy, and entitled to no more respect than the mad 
ravings of a sick man's dream. Now, if the atonement of 
Christ is a strict satisfaction to the law and justice of God, 
in the name and place of every sinner, it is impossible to 
conceive how God, without manifest injustice, can j^ass any 
by and doom them to punishment in their own proper per- 
sons. They have already satisfied the law in the person of 
Christ. How can they then be possibly condemned ? Does 
justice require two satisfactions ? We may safely say, then, 
that universal atonement is not only inconsistent with the 
doctrine of election, but absolutely incompatible with the 
ultimate damnation of a single sinner ; it is, in other words, 
when legitimately carried out, nothing but the plain, unvar- 
nished doctrine of universal salvation. It is not necessary, 
in order to give a warrant of faith and to render it the duty 
of every sinner to believe on Christ. The offer of the Saviour 
in the Gospel, which has no reference on its face to the secret 



200 ELECTION AND REPROBATION. 

designs of God, is the only legitimate ground of faith, and 
the command of God would render it binding upon every 
soul to believe on the Saviour, even though He had died for 
only one solitary sinner. The right of men to receive and 
rest upon Christ depends not upon the unrevealed purposes 
of God in regard to His death, but upon the broad and un- 
limited grant which is contained in the Gospel record, with 
its cheering invitations and pressing injunctions. In other 
words, faith fastens on the preceptive and not the decretive 
will of God. It would certainly imply a defect of some sort 
in the economy of grace to suppose that Christ died indis- 
criminately for all men ; that is, with the specific design of 
saving each and every individual, when, in point of fact, it 
is generally conceded that all men will not be saved. It is 
much more honourable to the Divine character to limit the 
design to the number that will actually be redeemed, and to 
maintain with the advocates of this scheme that the all- 
sufficiency of the atonement is an adequate ground of a 
general offer, and the sovereign authority of God an ade- 
quate ground of a general obligation to believe. 

I have now completed my original design. It is unneces- 
sary to say that consequences of momentous importance, in- 
volving the fundamental principles of the Gospel, hang upon 
the reception or rejection of this doctrine. To the humble 
Christian, who has been taught it by the Spirit of God — who 
has been emptied of self in every form and shape, and 
brought in deep prostration of soul to bow at the footstool 
of sovereign mercy — it is inexpressibly precious; and he 
knows something of the spirit in which that song, so often 
in his mouth, was dictated : " Not unto us, O Lord, not unto 
us, but unto Thy Name give the glory." In this precious 
doctrine he finds constant food for humilitv, gratitude and 
love; and when tempted to flag in his Christian course, 
nothing affords a stronger stimulant to duty than a deep 
sense of God's eternal, unmerited grace — " Lo, I have loved 
thee with an everlasting love." This doctrine is emphatically 
children's bread. They are often supported by the nourish- 



ELECTION AND REPKOBATION. 201 

ment it contains, and strengthened for the race set before 
them, when they can give no connected, metaphysical account 
of their experiences or feelings. It is eminently devotional 
in its tendencies ; and it is to be regretted that we are so 
often compelled to chastise the feelings which it naturally 
excites, in order to enter the lists of cold-blood argument 
with those who would rob us of this jewel which our Master 
has given us. We are often compelled to reason when the 
heart M'ould prompt us to adore. It is a scriptural duty to 
contend, and contend earnestly, for the faith once delivered to 
the saints. " Now, unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisi- 
ble, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and 
ever. Amen." 



PEEFATOEY NOTE 



This treatise on the " Necessity of the Atonement " was delivered as 
a sermon in the chapel of the South Carolina College on the first day 
of December, 1844, the text being Eomans i. 16. The author waa 
requested to give it to the press^ and it was published in 1845 by 
Samuel Weir, at Columbia. 

203 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 



IIST the introductory portion of the Epistle to the Romans 
the Apostle expresses himself as being not ashamed of 
the Gospel of Christ, because it was the power of God unto 
salvation to every believer of it. The exultation and tri- 
umph with which he was accustomed to contemplate the 
provisions of the Gospel show that to his mind the scheme 
of redemption unfolded the perfections of the Divine cha- 
racter in an aspect of benignity to sinners equally unex- 
pected and glorious. The freshness of interest and inten- 
sity of enthusiasm with which he habitually dwelt upon 
the cross were such as are wont to be elicited by a combina- 
tion, in objects, of novelty and importance. From it he had 
received full satisfaction upon questions which had awa- 
kened a deep curiosity and baffled the resources of his wis- 
dom to resolve. A light had been reflected from the Person 
and Offices of Christ which dissipated doubts that had 
painfully perplexed him, and revealed a prospect which 
might well endear to him a crucified Redeemer and change 
the current of his life. Discarding the refined system of 
licentiousness which renders the happiness of man a more 
important object than the moral government of God, and 
makes the distinctions between right and wrong mutable 
and arbitrary to save the guilty from despair, he assumes, 
in the masterly exposition which in that Epistle he gives us 
of the economy of grace, for the fundamental principle of 
his whole argument, the inseparable connection between 
punishment and guilt. " The wrath of God," he informs 
us, " is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men," " who will render to every man 

205 



206 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

according to his deeds ; unto them that are contentious and 
do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation 
and wrath, tribulation and anguisli upon every soul of man 
that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile." 

If sin be in every instance the object of Divine indigna- 
tion — and such we perceive is the statement of the Apostle — 
it would seem to be impossible even for God consistently 
with the perfections of His own nature to save the guilty 
from its doom. If every man must receive according to his 
deeds, and the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against 
all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, the universality 
of guilt would seem to close the door upon every prospect 
of hope. Nature, at least, left to the resources of her own 
strength, must always entertain distressing apprehensions 
that perfection of government and the power of pardon are 
mutually destructive of each other, and that whatever con- 
sequently might be the mercy of God, He could hardly be 
expected to yield to its impulse at the exjiense of justice, 
holiness and truth. To the mind which has been impressed 
with the magnitude of sin, the purity of God and the stern 
inflexibility of the Divine law, the possibility of jaardon is 
a question fraught with the profoundest interest and veiled 
in impenetrable gloom. It is the glory of the Gospel to 
remove the perplexities of unaided reason, and to explain 
the method by which God can be just and at the same time 
justify those who are ungodly. On this account it is styled 
by the Apostle the power of God unto salvation. This 
expression he seems to have employed as an exact defini- 
tion of the scheme of redemption. The Gospel is not to be 
regarded as a simple revelation of the mercy of God and 
His ability to pardon ; it is itself His power as a Saviour. 
The implication is irresistible that by the rich provisions of 
its grace, and by them alone, can the Lord deliver from going 
down to the pit ; that apart from the righteousness revealed 
to faith, Jehovah Himself has not the poioer to receive the 
guilty into favour ; that the mediation of Christ was the 
wonderful device of infinite wisdom to enable the Almighty 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 207 

in consistency witli justice to save the lost. The j^lirase- 
ology of the text is a favourite mode in which the Apostle 
describes the mystery of the cross. " For the preaching of 
the cross/' he declares in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 
" is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are 
saved it is the poioer of God. The Jews require a sign and 
the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ cruci- 
fied, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks 
foolishness ; but unto them which are called, both Jews and 
Greeks, Christ the 'power of God and the wisdom of God." 
To the same purport is a passage in Isaiah, in which Jeho- 
vah Himself solemnly refers to the grace of the Gospel as 
constituting His strength to save from death. The disobe- 
dient and unprofitable, addressed under the symbol of briers 
and thorns, are exhorted to make their peace with God, and, 
what is remarkable, they are directed to do so by taking hold 
of " His strength." Now as faith in the Divine Redeeme^r 
is the only means to tranquillity of conscience, as there is no 
peace to those who are strangers to the blood of the cove- 
nant, Jehovah's strength is evidently the same as the atone- 
ment of His Son. There lay His power to save, and inde- 
pendently of that He could only be as a devouring flame to 
briers and thorns. " Who would set the briers and thorns 
against me in battle ? I would go through them, I would 
burn them together ; or let him take hold of my strength 
that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace 
with me." 

The Apostle, in his Epistle to the Galatians, seems to me 
directly to assert that no scheme could have been devised, 
independently of the work of the Son of God, by which 
salvation could have been effected : " If there had been a 
law given which could have given life, verily righteousness 
should have been by the law, but the Scripture hath con- 
cluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus 
Christ might be given to them that believe." No method, 
in other words, could have been adopted, even in the pleni- 
tude of infinite power, by which God could acquit the guilty 



208 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMEN'J'. 

M'ithout the righteousness which His law demands ; and as 
such a righteousness is wholly impossible to human obe- 
dience, it must be secured by the mediation of a substitute. 
God cannot dispense with the claims of justice. His power 
to save is moral in its nature, and cannot be exerted — can- 
not, in truth, be said to exist — while the law pronounces the 
sentence of death. The reasoning here is precisely analo- 
gous to that which succeeds the declaration of the text. The 
Gospel he pronounces to be the power of God unto salvation, 
because " therein the righteousness of God is revealed from 
faith to faith, as it is written. The just shall live by faith." 

Such language must appear strange and enigmatical to 
those who view Christianity as little l^etter than a republi- 
cation of Natural Religion. Unaccustomed to the awful 
convictions of the malignity of sin and the holiness of God 
which the enlightened understanding, through the pressure 
of conscience, is driven to adopt, they can perceive no dif- 
ficulty in absolute forgiveness, and cannot consequently com- 
prehend the mystery that restraints should be taken from 
the power of God by the incarnation and death of the 
Redeemer. The necessity of atonement, as assumed by the 
Apostle, is to them inexplicable jargon. The low views in 
which they indulge themselves of the whole work and 
offices of the Saviour are to be ascribed to imperfect appre- 
hensions of the government of God. Their fundamental 
error consists in denying the owed of satisfaction — in contem- 
plating the Gospel in any other light than as " the power 
of God unto salvation." It is but a single step more, and 
the atonement itself is either formally discarded or else 
frittered away through the subtle distinctions of philosophy 
and vain deceit. To appreciate aright the death and suf- 
ferings of Christ we must have a proper if not an adequate 
conception of the "needs be" into which He Himself 
resolved His undertaking — a " needs be" which extended 
much farther than the fulfilment of prophecy — which had 
itself given rise to the predictions in having given rise in 
the depths of eternity to the " counsel of peace." We must 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 209 

enter into the meaning of the great Apostle when lie meas- 
ures the ability of God as a Saviour by His power to pro- 
vide a justifying righteousness. 

The two great principles on which the doctrine of atone- 
ment rests are — the inseparable connection between punish- 
ment and guilt, and the admissibility under proper restric- 
tions of a surety to endure the curse of the law. The 
unpardonable nature of sin, the practicability of legal sub- 
stitution, these are the pillars of the Christian fabric. In 
the first we acknowledge the indispensable necessity, in 
the other the glorious possibility, of an atoning Priest. In 
the first we are taught the wages of sin, in the other that 
they need not be reaped by ourselves. If the first were 
true to the exclusion of the second, eternal darkness would 
settle on the minds of the guilty ; it is the second which 
opened the door of hope and furnished a field, magnificent 
and ample, in which God might display the resources of 
His wisdom and unfold the riches of His grace — be at once 
a just God and a Saviour. 

The contemptuous confidence with which sophists and 
skeptics have denied the propriety of vicarious punish- 
ment has evidently proceeded from the foolish apprehen- 
sion that God, like ourselves, is bound to forgive upon a 
confession of the fiiult. If these arrogant disputers of this 
world could be brought to feel the truth and severity of 
the first great principle on which the atonement has been 
stated to rest, they would cling to the second as the only 
anchor of hope ; and instead of expending ingenuity in 
abortive efforts to undermine its strength, they would prob- 
ably lay their learning under tribute to defend its fitness, 
while they permitted their hearts to rejoice in its benignant 
aspect on the family of man. Let the position be firmly 
established that God can by no means clear the guilty, that 
sin must necessarily be punished, and all objections to the 
doctrine of suretysliip would be given to the winds. To 
cling to them under such circumstances would be with 
deliberate malice "to despise our own mercies." The 
Vol. II.— 14 



210 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

expectation of an easy pardon, secretly cherished if not 
openly avowed, is the real source of pretended difficulties 
with " the righteousness of faith." Hence, in discussing the 
doctrine of atonement the foundations should be deeply 
and securely laid in developing the scriptural account of 
its necessity. Clear apprehensions upon this point would 
serve at once to define its nature, determine its extent and 
put an end to cavils against its reality and truth. 

The necessity of the atonement, it may be well to remark, 
is only the necessity of a means to an end. The end itself, 
the salvation of the sinner, is in no sense necessary ; that is 
the free and spontaneous purpose of Divine grace. Had 
all the tribes of men been permitted to sink into hopeless 
perdition, no violence would have been done to the nature 
of God, no breach been made in the integrity of His gov- 
ernment. But the end having been determined, the death 
and obedience of Christ were indispensably necessary to 
carry it into execution. God could not receive the guilty 
into favour while the demands of His law were unsatisfied 
against them. 

That the design of the atonement was to generate mercy 
in the Divine Being, to beget the purpose as well as the 
power to save, is the gratuitous caricature of those who have 
assailed the work, in order to deny the Divinity, of the 
Redeemer. As well might it be pretended that the chan- 
nel which the torrent forces for itself among the rocks and 
declivities of the mountain is itself the source of the impet- 
uous current it conducts, or that the air which daily trans- 
mits to us light and heat from the sun is therefore the 
parent of these invaluable gifts. The mediation of Christ 
and the mercy of God are related to each other as cause 
and effect, but in an inverse order from that which is stated 
by Socinians ; it is mercy that gives rise to atonement, and 
not atonement that gives rise to mercy. The scriptural 
statement is : " God so loved the world that He gave His 
only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should 
not perish, but have everlasting life." " God commendeth 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 211 

His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners 
Christ died for us." " In this was manifested the love of 
God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten 
Son into tlie world, tliat we might live through Him. 
Hei-ein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved 
us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 
It w^as not, therefore, the design of the atonement to 7nakc 
God merciful — He was merciful before ; it ^vas not to gene- 
rate the jyurpose of salvation — that had existed in the bosom 
of Deity from all eternity. It was to render the exercise 
of mercy consistent with righteousness, to maintain the 
stability of the Divine throne and preserve the integrity 
of the Divine government, while outlaws and rebels were 
saved from the fate which their transgressions deserved. 
It is not in the nature of God to take pleasure in the death 
of the wicked ; it is equally remote from His nature to 
disregard the distinctions of moral conduct and treat the 
wicked as the righteous. The atonement, therefore, was 
necessary — not, as Socinians slanderously report that we 
affirm, to touch the Divine mind with compassion for the 
miserable, but, supposing the compassion to exist, to prepare 
the way by which it might be freely indulged with honour 
to God and safety to His law, as well as blessedness to 
man. The Gospel springs from mercy, and all its mys- 
terious arrangements are only the contrivances of infinite 
wisdom, incited by infinite grace, to acquire the power 
to save. 

It is no impeachment of the perfections of Jehovah to 
deny the possibility of unconditional remission. On the 
contrary, a full inv^estigation of the whole subject will con- 
duct, I apprehend, to the firm conviction that under all 
circumstances of the ease it is infinitely more glorious not 
to be able to forgive without a satisfaction than to relax the 
severity of law. The power of God is only an expression 
for the will of God, and to say that there are things which 
cannot be the objects of Divine volition may, in one view, 
be as much to His honour as in another it would detract 



212 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

from His supremacy. The purposes of Deity are not law- 
less and arbitrary. His will is determined by the perfec- 
tions of His nature. To say, therefore, that there are things 
which He cannot do is simply to affirm that He cannot vnll 
them, and to say that He cannot will them is just to assert 
that they are inconsistent with the perfections of His being. 
In such cases, consequently, we do not limit, we only define, 
the power of God ; all things are possible which He wills. 
His will is the measure of Plis power, but as moral excel- 
lence is the measure of His will, it is only to vindicate His 
character from the charge of weakness and ascribe to Him 
the highest conceivable praise to deny that He can will 
what comes into collision with justice, holiness, wisdom or 
truth. When we speak of impossibilities in reference to 
God, the impression is likely to be made upon the minds of 
the thoughtless that there is a limit to what may be called 
physical omnipotence — that there are purposes which God 
may desire to accomplish, and yet find Himself unable to 
effect them. This, however, is a gross mistake. He can 
do whatsoever He pleases in the armies of heaven and 
among the inhabitants of earth. His pleasure is nothing 
different from His might. His volitions are always fol- 
lowed by corresponding operations of His hands. So 
inseparable is the idea of power from the will of the 
Almighty that it may, without extravagance, be asserted 
that the only efficient cause which exists in the universe is 
the fiat of the Deity. All other phenomena are produced — 
they are strictly and properly effects ; this alone produces, 
speaks and it is done, commands and it stands fast. Phys- 
ical causes are only dependent events in the great chain 
of contingencies fastened to the throne of God, and differ 
from the appearances which are usually described as their 
effects in nothing but the order of time. Both alike are 
destitute of power, and we can never detect the presence 
of that mysterious and undefinable agent until we ascend 
to the throne of the Eternal. His will is the spring of 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 213 

universal motion, the cause of every eifect.' If he should 
will the unconditional pardon of a sinner, the pardon would 
not only be possible, but would most certainly and infalli- 
bly take place. Whatever He can will is possible — what- 
ever He does will is fact. His will is power. 

When it is affirmed, consequently, that God cannot receive 
the sinner into favour without satisfaction to His justice, the 
meaning is that He will not ; that, however true it is that 
He hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, there are 
qualities of His being, moral perfections of His nature, which 
make it as incongruous that He should will an unconditional 
pardon as that He should deny Himself or forfeit His 
veracity. The impossibility is of the same sort as that 
which is asserted when it is declared that " He cannot lie." 

The proof, therefore, of the necessity of atonement must 
consist in showing that the glory of God, especially the in- 
tegrity of His moral character, indispensably demands that 
sin should be punished. To make it appear that any essen- 
tial attribute of Deity would be seriously, or even at all, 
infringed by remitting the penalty, apart from the righteous- 
ness of the law, is to furnish a complete demonstration that 
arbitrary pardon can never be the object of the Divine voli- 
tion ; that whatever purposes of salvation may be cherished 
in the bosom of God include the design of exacting the de- 
mands of justice from the person of a substitute ; and that 
any other course, under the peculiar circumstances of the 
case, would involve as gross a contradiction as that the 
Strength of Israel should repent or lay aside His supremacy. 

The common delusion that the power of arresting the 
sentence of a judge is an essential element of sovereignty 
has arisen, perhaps, from the deceptive analogy of human 
institutions. The chief magistrate of every nation possesses 
the prerogative, in a certain department of cases, to commute, 

' [This should be understood in consistency with those views which 
elsewhere the author has expressed of the spontaneity and responsibil- 
ity of the human will. See particularly the addendum to Lecture X., 
Vol. I. — Editor.] 



214 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

relax, or at discretion dispense with, the punishment which 
the laws of the land have pronounced. This feature of 
human governments is nothing more than a contrivance to 
mitigate the evils which, under peculiar circumstances that 
may often happen, and yet that could not be defined in the 
terms of a statute, might result from the inflexible operation 
of general rules. To foresee the countless contingencies 
which control human conduct, to adjust the law to all the 
modifications of which crime is susceptible, to estimate before- 
hand the varieties of motives, of palliating and aggravating 
circumstances which determine the malignity of guilt, is 
evidently a task which, however important for the strict 
administration of justice, it is beyond the compass of human 
sagacity to achieve. The laws of men must consequently be 
general and extensive, grouping crimes by compendious 
descriptions into large classes, and affixing the same penalty 
to each separate species, without respect to the individual 
differences that must necessarily obtain among them. Human 
legislation, for the most part, must confine its view to the 
external expressions, and not to the real character, of motives 
themselves. The outward acts being the same, but little 
allowance can be made for constitutional infirmities, violence 
of temptation, and the delicate shades of feeling in the inner 
man which may impart very different degrees of malignity 
to the same action as perpetrated by different individuals. 
The consequence is, that civil punishments must sometimes 
transcend the sense of justice and the conviction of expedi- 
ency which should regulate the severity of the penal code. 
The imperfection, too, of human tribunals may sometimes 
pervert the law through prejudice, weakness or corruption, 
and involve the innocent in the doom of the guilty. To 
correct these evils, arising from the necessary defect of human 
legislation, the power of pardon, as it is commonly denomi- 
nated, though it is more properly a check upon injustice, is 
generally lodged with the chief executive officer of the state. 
It does not belong to him as a prerogative of sovereignty, 
but simply as he is the guardian of the laws, who is bound 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 215 

to enforce them according to the letter, with an occasional 
discretion according to their spirit when the letter would 
kill and the spirit would spare. The object is not that he 
may pardon at discretion, but that, under circumstances 
which could not have been foreseen by any human legisla- 
ture, and which, in the moral sense of the community, 
essentially modify the crime, he might prevent a result 
M^hich was never really intended, but which, from the 
general terms of the law, seems to have been eontemj^lated. 
If human governments were perfect, if rules could be framed 
with an exact adjustment to all the varieties of individual 
cases that could possibly come under them, if those appointed 
to administer them could be exempted from prejudice, par- 
tiality, weakness and corruption, no injustice could ever 
exist to be corrected. The dispensing power would be felt 
to be an evil, the moral sentiments of the community would 
in every case sustain the law, nothing could plead for mercy 
— if indeed that can be called mercy which, in the disguise 
of pity to an individual, is often the bitterest cruelty to the 
State — nothing could plead for mercy but a squeamish ten- 
derness, which it is effeminate to cherish and to which it 
would be wicked to yield. As the probabilities of occasional 
iiijiistice under the inflexible operation of general rules con- 
sfitutc the true ground of arrangements for pardon in the 
KStiite, no argument can be drawn from analogy in favour of 
a similar provision in the moral government of God. There, 
error, mistake, partiality and corruption can have no place ; 
there, every case is determined upon its own individual 
merits, and each man is rewarded or puiiished according to 
his conduct under laws adapted to all the varieties of motive 
and temptation. Such, in fact, is the consummate perfection 
of the Divine administration that actions are never tried in 
the mass, but estimated according to their minutest details. 

The checks and balances which experience has suggested 
to adjust the inequalities of human constitutions are more 
than supplied, the need of them is completely obviated, by 
the knowledge, wisdom, integrity and foresight 'ivliicli belong 



216 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

in infinite and unchanging proportions to the great Monarch 
of the universe. The very reason, that justice may be done 
or injustice prevented, whicli mitigates the sternness of hu- 
man law, renders ifc equally important that the decisions of 
the Almighty should stand. Our laws are flexible, because 
we are liable to error ; God's laws are inflexible, because, as 
Judge of all the earth, He must infallibly and always do 
right. The power of dispensing with the law is no part of 
the conception of sovereignty. To rule by arbitrary will 
without reference to a fixed standard of moral distinctions ; 
to change the law or its sanctions at pleasure, according to 
the dictates of caprice, prejudice, partiality or expediency ; 
to infuse uncertainty into the administration of justice, ex- 
citing expectations to-day which shall be mocked to-morrow, 
and awakening imaginary fears only in sport, — is the descrip- 
tion of a despotism and not of a government ; and he who sits 
supreme at the head of such a moral chaos or anarchy is not 
a sovereign, but a tyrant. The true idea of sovereignty is 
that of power which is responsible to none — whose decisions 
must stand on the simple ground that there is no tribunal to 
reverse them. God is sovereign, not because He rules with- 
out laAV or can set it aside at discretion, but because He is 
supreme and irresponsible, giving none account of His mat- 
.ters to any above Him. In the fact that He accomplishes 
His pleasure among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants 
of earth — that none can say unto Him, What doest Thou? or 
demand the reasons of any of His dispensations — lies the true 
ground of His sovereignty. His counsel must stand ; from 
His decrees there is no appeal. He sits supreme at the head 
of the universe, and therefore is truly and properly a Sove- 
reign. To say that the power of pardon — that is, the power 
of changing the operation of the law — is an essential element 
of such a supremacy, is equivalent to saying that He cannot 
be sovereign without being fickle ; it is, in other words, to 
degrade His perfections in order to make Him the Disposer 
of events. The error has arisen from partial attention to the 
fact that the prerogative of mercy in human institutions is 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 217 

generally comniitteJ to the representative of sovereignty. 
The ground, however, of this arrangement is convenience 
and despatch. There is no reason in the nature of things 
why it might not be entrusted to an officer selected for the 
sole ]3urpose of possessing it. To the chief magistrate it 
belongs, not in virtue of his office as a ruler, but as it is a 
solemn trust from the community, which, for obvious i"ea- 
sons, can be more available in his hands than in any other 
depository. 

The doctrine of the atonement has been defended upon 
principles which, according to my apprehensions — and I 
would speak with profound respect of the opinions of such 
men as Grotius, Rutherford, Twiss and Magee — arc not 
strictly applicable to Divine institutions. They have repre- 
sented satisfaction as demanded, not so much by the justice 
of God as the wisdom of the measure, and have made it a 
matter rather of expediency than imperative necessity.' 

1 The following extract from the Lectures of Hill, who has professedly 
followed Grotius, may be taken as a fair specimen of the sentiments of all 
those divines who are mentioned in the text: 

" The first principle upon which a fair statement of the doctrine of the 
atonement proceeds is this, that sin is a violation of law, and that the 
Almighty, in requiring an atonement in order to the pardon of sin, 

acts as the supreme lawgiver If the Almighty, tlien, is 

to be regarded as a lawgiver, we must endeavour to I'ise to tlie most 
exalted conceptions which we are able to form of the plan of Plis moral 
government; and for this purpose it is necessary that we should abstract 
from it every kind of weakness which is incident to the administration of 
human governments, and lay hold of those principles and maxims which 
reason and experience teach us to consider as essential to a good govern- 
ment, and without which it does not appear to us that that expression has 
any meaning. Now, it is the first principle of every good government 
that laws are enacted for the benefit of the community. Tlie happiness 
of the whole body depends upon their being observed, for tliey would not 
have been enacted if the observance of tliem had been a matter of indif- 
ference to the public. Hence, every person who violates the laws, besides 
the disrespect which he shows to that authority by which they were 
enacted, besides the hurt which individuals may sustain by his action, 
does an injury to the public, because he disturbs that order and security 
which the laws establish. It is therefore essential to the excellence of 
government that there succeeds, immediately after disobedience, wliat is 



218 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

They taritlj assume, if they do not positively assert, as the 
basis of their argument, the cardinal principle of modern 
politics, that the ultimate end of government is the good of 
the governed, and that the primary design of punishment is 
to inspire a salutary fear in the breasts of the subjects. It 
is, in other words, a moral expedient to save the law from 
contempt. To pardon the guilty upon a profession of re- 
pentance, however sincere, would be to destroy the dignity 
of government, to weaken the bands of authority and afford 
a premium to crime. As a measure of impolicy, therefore, 
likely to be dangerous to the interests of virtue, no wise 
ruler would resort to it. The efficacy of law depends s > 
much upon the certainty of its sanctions, that no considcra- 

called guilt — i. e., the desert of punishment, an obligation to suffer tliat 
which the law prescribes. Accordingly, in the code of laws of many 
northern nations, who were accustomed to estimate all crimes at certain 
rates, a murderer not only paid a sum to the relations of the deceased as 
a compensation for their loss, but he paid a sum to tlie king for the breach 
of the peace. And in all countries that which is properly called punish- 
ment does not mean the putting the rights of a jjrivate party, who may 
have been immediately injured, in the same state in which they were 
before the trespass was committed, but it means the reparation made to 
the public by the suffering of the criminal for the disorder arising from 
his breach of the laws. The law generally defines what the measure of 
tliis suffering shall be, and it is applied to particular cases by criminal 
judges, Avho, being only interpreters of the law, have no power to remit 
the punishment. It is true that in most human governments a j^ower is 
lodged somewhere of granting pardon, because, from the imperfection 
wliich necessarily adheres to them, it may often be inexpedient or even 
unjust that a person who has been legally condemned should suffer ; and 
there are times when the legislature sees meet to pass acts of indemnity. 
But it is only in very particular circumstances that the safety of the state 
admits the escape of a criminal ; and in most cases the sujDreme authority 
proceeds, not with wrath, but from a calm and fixed regard to the essen- 
tial interests of the community, to deter other subjects from violating the 
laws, by exhibiting to their view punishment as the consequence of trans- 
gression. If we apply these maxims and principles, which appear to us 
implied in the very nature of good government, we sliall find it impos- 
sible to conceive of God as a lawgiver, without thinking it essential to 
His character to punish transgression ; and the perfection of His govern- 
ment, far from superseding this exercise of that character, seems to render 
it the more becoming and the more indispensable." — Lectures, Book iv., 
c. iii., sec. 1. 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT, 219 

tions which can occur in the government of God should be 
permitted to arrest its operation. Severity to individuals is 
a public benefit. The character of the Ruler, too, might 
suffer in the eyes of his subjects from the appearance of vacil- 
lation, inconsistencv and weakness, which a ne";lect to exe- 
cute his threatenings, would perhaps [iresent. To maintain, 
therefore, the stability of government, to prevejit rebellion, 
and to preserve respect for tlie person of the Lawgiver, it is 
highly proper that unconditional pardons should never be 
admitted. This is an outline of the argument by which 
vicarious satisfaction has been commonly defended. 

To say nothing here of what will afterward appear, that 
every single proposition in this chain of reasoning is false, it 
is evident that if the whole were true, the atonement is 
placed upon a basis too feeble to support so solid a fabric. 
Its necessity is not made out by showing that it is conducive 
to the ends of government. Government itself may be con- 
tingent and arbitrary, susceptible of change, relaxation or 
amendment. Unless the law be immutable and necessary, 
unconditional pardon, however inexpedient, would conflict 
with no principle of moral rectitude. It might be unwise, 
but would not be unjust — unsafe, but not essentially wrong. 
There are, besides, serious objections to resting the atone- 
ment on the basis of expediency. 

If it is to be resolved into reasons of State, and treated 
as an expedient to prevent the evils of absolute forgive- 
ness, then it produces no direct effect upon the mind of God, 
but reaches the Ruler through the medium of the subject. 
If its leading object is to render it possible to pardon with 
safety, then its operation is primarily upon the objects of 
favour, and not upon the Author. Though it is a satisfac- 
tion, yet its value depends not immediately upon its rela- 
tion to the law, but upon its tendency to deter from disobe- 
dience and to check the contagion of evil example. Just 
in proportion as it creates the conviction that transgression is 
dangerous and obedience safe, does it answer its primary 
end. Its being a satisfaction to justice is not necessary on 



220 THE XECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

the score of justice itself, but on account of the moral im- 
pression which as a satisfaction it is suited to enstamp. 
Now, if the production of such an impression were the grand 
result which God intended to achieve by the sufferings and 
death of His Son, the question naturally arises whether it 
could not have been compassed by a less expensive and im- 
posing arrangement. Expediency opens a boundless field 
of possibilities from which the wisdom of God might have 
chosen other contrivances suited to signalize His hatred of 
sin and to deter from rebellion, without subjecting the inno- 
cent to the shame and agony of an awful crucifixion. It 
might indeed be a question, if the government of God 
depends upon no higher principles than those of expe- 
diency, whether any considerations of policy could justify 
an act so extraordinary in its character as the humiliation 
and death of God's eternal Son. The obvious impression 
under such circumstances would seem to be that the happi- 
ness of man was a more important end than the glory and 
blessedness of the Second Person in the adorable Godhead. 
Expediency holds the scales ; it is settled that the law can- 
not be sacrificed, and the real question is, whether on the 
score of public advantage it is better that the guilty should 
suffer or that the Son should die. Accordingly, we find 
that those who have been most deeply imbued with utilita- 
I'ian views of the Divine government have not scrupled to 
deny the reality of the penal sufferings of our Lord.^ , They 

1 " Thus far we have been examining and attempting to ascertain pre- 
cisely the nature of the difficulty which it was the business of the atone- 
ment to remove. The difficulty, it appears, consists wholly in the second 
ground of punishment — that is, in the necessity of distributive justice to 
the well-being of the universe. To remove this difficulty, or to enable 
God righteously to pardon the repenting sinner, the atonement must give 
the same support to law, or must display as impressively the perfect holi- 
ness and justice of God, as the execution of the law on transgressors 
would. It must be something diiferent from the execution of the law 
itself, because it is to be a substitute for it, something which will render 
it safe and proper to suspend the regular course of distributive justice. 
If such an expedient can be found, then an adequate atonement is possi- 
ble, otherwise it is not. Now such an expedient the text represents the 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 221 

deny that He made a satisfaction to justice, since the moral 
impression which according to this scheme constitutes the 
end of the atonement could be as easily effected by a sym- 

sacrifice of Christ to be. It is ' a declaration of the righteousness of God, 
so that he might be just,' might secure the objects of distributive justice 
as it becomes a righteous moral governor to do, 'and yet miglit justify,' 
or acquit and exempt from punishment, him that believeth in Jesus. It 
was, in the nature of it, an exhibition or proof of the righteousness of 
God. It did not consist in an execution of the law on any being what- 
ever, for it was a substitute for an execution of it. It did not annihilate 
the guilt of transgressors, or cause them to be either really or apparently 
innocent, for this was impossible ; it rather proclaimed the atrocity of 
the guilt. It did not fulfil the law, or satisfy its demands on transgres- 
sors, for then their acquittal would have been an act of justice, not of 
grace, and the atonement would have been but another mode of execut- 
ing the law itself, not a substitute for it. Its immediate influence was 
not on the characters and relations of men as transgressors, nor on the 
claims of the law upon them. Its direct operation was on the feelings 
and the apprehensions of the beings at large who are under the moral 
government of God. In two respects it coincided precisely with a public 
execution of the law itself; its immediate influence was on the same per- 
sons, and that influence was produced in the same way, by means of a 
public exhibition. For what is a public execution of the law on culprits 
but a public exhibition ? and an exhibition which is intended to aflfect 
the feelings and the apprehensions of the community, to impress them all 
with high respect and reverence for the law, that stern guardian of the 
public weal ? The atonement, to be a proper substitute for the execution 
of the law, ought to be a public exhibition, and such an exhibition as 
would impress all the creatures of God with a deep and awful sense of 
the majesty and sanctity of His law, of the criminality of disobedience 
to it, and of the holy, unbending rectitude of God as a moral governor. 
And such, according to the text, the atonement really was. It was an 
exhibition or manifestation of the righteousness of God, and an exhibi- 
tion of such a nature as must strike every intelligent beholder with aston- 
ishment. It was a transaction without a parallel in the history of the 
Divine government. The Son of God, the Lord of glory. Himself 
descended to this, lower world. He veiled His Godhead in a human 
body, and humbled Himself to dwell with men. He toiled and bore 
reproach, and suffered from pain and weariness and hunger. He conde- 
scended to instruct men, to be their PJiysician, their Friend, their very 
Servant; He washed His disciples' feot. He was obedient to every ordi- 
nance of God and man ; He fulfilled all righteousness. He suffl'red Him- 
self to be reviled and persecuted, to be arraigned, condemned and cruci- 
fied. He expired amidst the mockery of Jews and the insults of a 
Roman soldiery. That this was an astonishing exhibition— an exhibition 



222 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

bolical display. The sentiments of Murdock and those of 
Grotius diverge at this point. The Hopkinsian divine dis- 
cards satisfaction, because he supposes that the ends of 

calculated to fill the mind with wonder and amazement — every one feels 
instantly. The only difficulty is to understand how this exhibition was a 
display of the righteousness of God. To solve it, some have resorted to 
the supposition that the Son of God became our sponsor, and satisfied the 
demands of the law on us by snfFering in our stead. But to this hypothe- 
sis there are strong objections. To suppose that Christ was really and truly 
our sponsor, and that He suffered in this character, would involve such 
a transfer of legal obligations and liabilities and merits as is inadmissible, 
and to suppose anything short of this will not explain the difficulty. 
For if, while we call Him a sponsor, we deny that He was legally holden 
or responsible for us, and liable in eqnity to suffer in our stead, we assign 
no intelligible reason why His sufferings should avail anything for our 
benefit, or display at ail the righteousness of God. Besides, this hypothe- 
sis, like all the others which suppose the Son of God to have first entered 
into a close, legal connection with sinful men, and afterward to have 
redeemed them, would make the atonement to be a legal satisfaction for 
sin, and then the acquittal of the sinner would be no pardon at all, but 
would follow in the regular course of law. We must, therefore, resort to 
some other solution. And what is more simple and at the same time sat- 
isfactory than that which is suggested by the text ? The atonement was 
an exhibition or display — that is, it was a symbolical transaction. It was 
a transaction in which God and His Son were the actors, and they acted 
in perfect harmony, though performing different parts in the august 
drama. The Son in particular passed voluntarily through various scenes 
of humiliation and sorrow and suffering, while the Father looked on 
with all that tenderness and deep concern which He, and none but He, 
could feel. The object of both in this affecting tragedy was to make an 
impression on the minds of rational beings everywhere and to the end 
of time. And the impression to be made was that God is a holy and 
righteous God, that while inclined to mercy He cannot forget the de- 
mands of justice, and the danger to His kingdom from the pardon of the 
guilty — that He must show Plis feelings on this subject, and show them so 
clearly and fully that all His rational creatures shall feel that he honours 
His law while suspending its operation as much as He would by the exe- 
cution of it. But how, it may be asked, are these things expressed or 
represented by this transaction? The answer is, symbolically. The Son 
of God came down to our world to do and to suffer what He did, not 
merely for the sake of doing those acts and enduring those sorrows, but 
for the sake of the impression to be made on the minds of all beholders 
by His labouring and suffering in this manner. In this sense it was a 
symbolical transaction. And the import or meaning of it, as of everv 



THE NECE-^SITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 223 

goverument could be accomplished without it; the Seini- 
socinian admits satisfaction, because he felt that vicarious 
suffering was the only basis for the desired impression. 
They reason upon the same general principle, although 
their conclusions are flatly contradictory. The Hopkinsian, 
to my mind, has the advantage in the argument. ^Ve can 
evidently see no wisdom in an arrangement in which the 
means are vastly disproportioned to the end. Even to 
finite creatures like ourselves it is possible to conceive of 
other plans beside the penal death of the Redeemer, by 
which sin might have been rebuked and the government of 
God maintained, if the only purpose had been to devise a 
scheme for dispensing mercy with safety. The strong lan- 
guage of the Apostle, however, which represents this as the 
only means by which God could accomplish the end He had 
in view, is utterly inexplicable if the atonement Avere noth- 
ing but a stroke of policy ; and those who adopt this view, 
it deserves to be remarked, are not willing to assert that the 
mediation of Christ was in such a sense necessary as that 
God could not, consistently with His glory, pardon without 
it. They speak of it as wise, fit and proper, but not as 
absolutely necessary.^ The difficulty of pardon, according to 

other symbol, is to be learned either from the circumstances and occasion 
of it, or from the explanation that accompanies it." — Murdock's Sermon 
on Nature of the Atonement, pp. 20, 24. 

1 " When, therefore, Grotins, Stillingfleet and Clarke are charged (as 
they are in H. Taylor's B. Mord., Let. 5) with contending for ' the necessity 
of a vindication of God's honour, either by the suffering of the offenders 
or by that of Christ in their room,' they are by no means to be considered 
as contending that it was impossible for God to have established such a 
dispensation as might enable Him to forgive the sinner withont some sat- 
isfaction to his justice (which is the sense forcibly put upon their words), 
but that, according to the method and dispensation which God's wisdom 
has chosen, there results a moral necessity of such vindication founded in 
the wisdom and prudence of a Being who has announced Himself to man- 
kind as an upright Governor, resolved to maintain the observance of His 
laws. That by tlie necesdfy spoken of is meant but a moral necessity, or, 
in other words, a fitness and propriety, Dr. Clarke himself informs us, for 
he tells us (Sermon 137, vol. ii., p. 142, fol. ed.), that 'when the honour 
of God's laws had been diminished by sin, it was reasonable and necessary, 



224 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

their view, does not spring from the essential attributes of 
God, but from the views of His government likely to be 
taken by His subjects, and the result of the Saviour's sacri- 
fice has been, not that God might be just, though that is 
true, but that He might be safe in justifying those who 
believe on Jesus. The fundamental error of this whole 
scheme is an inadequate conception of the origin and nature 
of the Divine government, and of the principal end of 
Divine punishments. Correct apprehensions u])on these 
points will furnish a triumphant vindication of the indis- 

in respect of God's ivisdom in governinc/ the world, tliat there shonki be a 
vindication,' etc. And again, (Sermon 138, vol. ii., p. 150), in answer to 
the qnestion, ' Could not God, if He had pleased, absolutely and of His 
supi-eme authority, without any sufferings at all, have pardoned the sins 
of those whose repentance He thought fit to accept?' he says, 'It becomes 
not us to presume to say He had not power so to do,' but that there seems 
a fitness in His testifying His indignation against sin, and ' the death of 
Christ was necessary to make the pardon of sin reconcilable, not perhaps 
absolutely with strict justice (for we cannot presume to say that God might 
not consistently with mere jiistice have remitted as much of His own right 
a.s He pleased), but it is necessary, at least in this respect, to make the par- 
don of sin consistent with the ivisdom of God in His good government of 
the world, and to be a proper attestation of His irreconcilable hatred against 
all unrighteousness.' That the word necessary is imprudently used by Dr. 
Clarke and others, I readily admit, as it is liable to be misunderstood, and 
furnishes matter of cavil to those who would misrepresent the whole of 
the doctrine. But it is evident from the passages I have cited that so far 
from considering the sacrifice of Christ as a debt paid to, because rigor- 
ously exacted by, the Divine justice, it is represented by Dr. Clarke, and 
generally understood, merely as a fit expedient, demanded by the wisdom 
of God, whereby mercy might be safely administered to sinful man. 
Now, it is curious to remark, that H. Taylor, who so warmly objects to 
this notion of a necessity of vindicating God's honour, as maintained by 
Dr. Clarke, etc., when he comes to reply to the Deist in defence of the 
scheme of Christ's mediation, uses a mode of reasoning that seems exactly 
similar: 'God (B. Mord., Let. 5) was not made placable by intercession, 
but was ready and willing to forgive before as well as after, and only 
waited to do it in such a manner as might best show His regard to righteous- 
ness? Is not this, in other words, saying there was a fitness, and conse- 
quently a moral necessity, that God should forgive sins through the inter- 
cession and meritorious obedience of Christ, for the purpose of vindicating 
His glory as a righteous Governor f" — Magees Discourses, vol. i., p. 187. 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATOXEMEXT. 225 

pensable necessity of vicarious satisfaction in order to the 
exercise of grace. 

Plausible and common as the doctrine is, it seems to me 
to be unquestionably false that the primary design of the 
Divine government is the good of the subjects. This is to 
confound the ultimate end with an incidental advantage, the 
final cause M'ith a collateral effect. Happiness, having no 
separate and independent existence of its own, can never be 
made a separate and independent object of pursuit ; it is a 
state of mind resulting from the possession of that which is 
suited to extinguish pain and to gratify desire. As there is 
no philosopher's stone for transmuting vulgar materials into 
gold, and for supplying men with wealth without diligence, 
activity and industry in the lucrative pursuits of life, so 
there are no means of imparting to them happiness, without 
imparting to them the objects which, from their relations to 
the state and affections of the heart, are usually denominated 
good. The highest felicity, it is true, accrues to the creature 
from uniform obedience to the law of God ; but the law was 
not established on account of its tendencies to promote the 
enjoyment of the subject ; these tendencies, on the other hand, 
result from the adaptation of the subject to the law. The 
government of God was not adjusted with reference to man, 
but man was constituted with reference to it. To make the 
creature an end to the Creator, and not the Creator an end 
to the creature, is to reverse the natural order, making that 
supreme which is only subordinate, and that subordinate 
which is truly supreme. From the nice and beautiful pro- 
portions which exist, in an unfallen state, between the moral 
capacities of the creature and the circumstances in which he 
is placed, he finds, with the Psalmist, that the statutes of the 
Lord are right, rejoicing the heart, and that perfect jicace is 
the inheritance of those who love the testimonies of God. 
The affections of the subject, while yet a stranger to sin, 
move in such perfect harmony with the wheels of govern- 
ment that the rarest beatitude is the inseparable fruit of 
obedience. Still, the production of happiness was not the 

Vol. II.— 15 



226 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

end which God proposed in the promulgation of His law ; 
it was contemplated as an effect, a subordinate and incidental 
eifect, which would infallibly take place upon the accom- 
plishment of the nobler purposes which determined the 
decisions of His will. The true end of the Divine govern- 
ment, as of all the institutions of the Almighty, must be 
sought, not in the good of the creature, however certainly 
promoted, but in the glory of God. This is the only 
object which is worth the attention of the Eternal Mind, and 
as it includes in itself all that is exalted in excellence, illus- 
trious in truth, charming in beauty and delightful in good- 
ness, the steady ])rosecution of it is an unfailing pledge of the 
ultimate prosperity and triumph of whatever can adorn, dig- 
nify or please. No danger can be apprehended to the uni- 
verse while He, who sits supreme at its head, is the Father 
of truth, the fountain of purity and the patron of right. It 
is His glory to be what He is. The possession of infinite 
perfections and the enjoyment within Himself of unchanging 
blessedness, independence and self-sufficiency, are character- 
istics of the Deity which render it impossible that His mani- 
fold works should spring from any other motive but the 
counsel of His own will. To reveal Himself, to declare what 
He is, to make known the properties of His being, to mani- 
fest His glory by inscribing His character uj)on the achieve- 
ments of His hand, is the great design with which He 
spread the heavens above us, adorned the earth beneath us, 
and peopled it with plants, animals and men. What are 
called the natural or physical attributes of God are displayed 
by His works, as passive recipients of the impressions of 
knowledge, power and wisdom which He has enstamped 
upon them. The heavens declare God's glory and the firma- 
ment showeth His handiwork, not because they are conscious 
themselves of the high destiny they fulfil but because the 
intelligent beholder traces the Divine providence, wisdom 
and power in their being, harmony and motions. 

The moral perfections of God, which constitute pre-emi- 
nently His glory, cannot be pcissively disjilayed. Traces of 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 227 

justice, fidelity and truth cannot be detected in inanimate 
objects nor impressed upon involuntary agents. If the 
Deity should blot from existence every moral creature and 
suffer every other jjortion of His works to stand, there would 
not, in all the compass of the universe, be a single object to 
reflect the beauty of His holiness ! Nature would be dumb 
in reference to the very characteristics of the Godhead which 
render it supremely and ineffably blessed. It is hard to 
conceive that a creation destitute of moral intelligences, in- 
capable of love, gratitude or truth, could be an ol)ject of 
complacent contemjilation to God. His own blessedness is 
unquestionably derived from the moral perfections of His 
being. Wisdom, knowledge and power possess no inherent 
and essential glory apart from their subserviency to the 
interests of holiness. Invest a being with unlimited might, 
sagacity and knowledge, and deprive him at the same time 
of integrity of character, and you make him an object of 
detestation to others and a burden to himself. Severed from 
goodness, knowledge is craft, power is violence, and sagacity 
is fraud. Taking life as a compendious expression for all 
the elements which constitute felicity, it may be truly said 
that the life of God is His holiness. 

We are accustomed to take quite too limited a view of the 
material universe of God. In its relations to us, it may 
perhaps be true that it rises no higher in the scale of dignity 
than to reveal the natural perfections of its Author. But the 
ground of the complacency with which He beholds it, and 
on which He pronounced it very good, is probably the part 
which it is appointed to play in that grand and comprehen- 
sive economy of things whose final scope is to manifest His 
glory as a Being of eternal rectitude. No donl)t unity of 
purpose pervades all the works of the Almighty. The 
scheme of His government is one; and though there be 
wheels within wheels, plans within plans, all move on in 
unbroken harmony and tend to a common result. There is 
a subordination of parts,— the inanimate to the living, the 
material to the spiritual, the spiritual to the moral, and all 



228 THE NECESSITY OP THE ATONEMENT. 

to the glory of God ; and when He casts the eye of His 
omniscience upon any portion of His works, He delights not 
in it as an isolated fragment, however perfect in its kind or 
however clearly displaying any single perfection of His 
nature, but as a means tending, in its proper place, to the 
development of the great result which the whole was designed 
to accomplish. The columns, arches and canopy of the tem- 
ple are not admired upon their own account, but on account 
of their relations to the magnificent structure which they 
support, cement and adorn. 

Such being the pre-eminence of moral distinctions, it is 
evidently no extravagance to assert that the subordination 
of its parts to a moral end is the probable cause of the crea- 
tion of the universe and the measure of God's complacency 
in it. But as His moral perfections cannot be passively dis- 
played — as they are essentially active, and require active 
elements to receive the impressions of them — there must be 
creatures endowed with understanding, conscience, affections 
and will, capable of bearing the image of His holiness, of 
appreciating the distinctions of right and wrong, and of feel- 
ing the supremacy of moral truth. While the habitations to 
which they are assigned display the natural perfections of 
Deity, they themselves, in their moral constitution, are mir- 
rors to reflect His rectitude. Such creatures God not only 
can contemplate with pleasure, as He does every other por- 
tion of His works — He can even enter into communion with 
them; a foundation is laid for sympathy of affection and 
reciprocity of love. 

To such beings God must sustain the relation of a Ruler. 
It is through His law that a permanent and faithful exhibi- 
tion is made of the eternal principles of holiness which 
belong to the essence of the Godhead. His government is 
not a matter of expediency ; it is indispensably necessary — 
springs spontaneously from the bosom of God, and can only 
cease with the cessation of His being. 

Where the elements which constitute the adequate idea of 
government — competent authority, a rule of action and a 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT, 229 

suitable sanction — all arise from necessary relations, it can- 
not be a question whether the regiment itself is a contino-ent 
result, due to the dictates of benevolence and policy, or a 
natural event, the offspring of unchanging truth and 
morality. 

In the present case the authority which prescribes the law 
is an inalienable right. The relation in which the Creator 
stands to His creatures makes them, in the strictest sense, 
His property. It is a settled principle of political philosophy 
that labour, in some form, either intellectual or pliysical, 
producing new combinations or changing existing materials, 
is the ultimate foundation among men of the right to appro- 
priate. The product of one's own industry and skill sustains 
a relation to himself which it bears to no other being ; and 
as they are his own, part and parcel of his own existence, that 
on which they have been expended becomes, in some sense, 
a portion of himself and subject to the control of his will. 
But the production of value by the application of labour is 
a feeble image of the power of creation ; and if society in- 
stinctively recognizes the claims of its members to the opera- 
tions of their hands, how much higher and more absolute is 
the right of the Almighty to appropriate, control and govern 
the offspring of His own omnipotence and will ! " In Him 
we live and move and have our being." " It is He that 
hath made us, and not we ourselves ; we ai-e His people and 
the sheep of His pasture." The Psalmist accordingly traces 
the supremacy of God to the dependence of all things upon 
Him for their original existence. " For the Lord is a gi-eat 
God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are 
the deep places of the earth : the strength of the hills is His 
also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands 
formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow 
down : let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. For He is 
our God ; and we are the people of His pastuw, and the 
sheep of His hand." But if creation vests in the Almighty 
an absolute right to the disposal of His creatures, His con- 
stant preservation of man and beast is a continual augmon- 



230 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

tation of His title. To keep in being is no less a stretch of 
power than to create out of nothing. To God as a creator 
we are all indebted for original existence ; to God as a pre- 
server we are equally indebted for present existence ; and 
therefore preservation, from its uniformity and constancy, 
gives a perfect title to each successive moment in the history 
of every individual. It is, indeed, a question whether pres- 
ervation be anything distinct from a continued creation — 
whether the tendency to nothing which the one resists does 
not require the exercise of the same power, in the same de- 
gree, as the original nihility which the other destroys. 

If, then, upon the solid basis of creation and preservation, 
God possesses an unquestionable propriety in all His crea- 
tures, they are under a corresj)onding obligation to acknow- 
ledge His dominion. Their dependence upon Him for past, 
present and continued existence makes it a matter of imper- 
ative duty to submit to His authority. The very confession 
that they are His property is a confession that His will is 
their law. Shall the thing formed say to Him that forme<l 
it, Why hast Thou made me thus? The right to govern, 
therefore, is not a contingent and accidental privilege, but a 
necessary result of the mutual relations of creature and 
Creator. 

The dependence of the creature and the independence of" 
God give rise to a radical and important difference in the 
sources respectively of their moral actions. God's holiness, 
justice, fidelity and truth spring from necessity of nature. 
He is under no obligation to do right, because He acknow- 
ledges no superior whose will can be law to Him : still. He 
can never fail to do right, because the perfections of His 
nature are more certain and necessary in producing unchang- 
ing rectitude of conduct than the operation of a law. He 
does right, in other words, because such is His nature that 
He cannot do wrong ; not because He is bound to give 
account of any of His matters to any tribunal above Him. 
Now, the authority of God stands to the actions of a creature 
in the same relation which necessity of nature sustains to 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONE>fENT. 231 

His own. Hence, a moral creature is necessarily the subject 
of obligation. It must seek the law of its being beyond 
itself; the reasons, the ultimate standard of its conduct, 
must be found in a superior will to which it is responsible. 
The fundamental principle in the moral code of all created 
intelligences is, and must be, that the authority of their 
Creator is absolute, final and complete. Hence, tlic will of 
God, in whatever way expressed, is to them the sole standard 
of moral obligation. To deny this principle would be to 
make the creature independent. The confirmation in holi- 
ness, which is a large ingredient in the blessedness of angels 
and of saints, does not imply holiness by absolute necessity 
of nature, but such a continued communication of the grace 
of God as cherishes in their hearts an uniform conviction of 
dependence, and an uniform regard to the glory and will of 
the Creator. The perfection of the just is, in no proper 
sense, a law to them ; it does not constitute their standard 
of conduct ; they cannot make it the measure of their actions. 
It is the prerogative of God alone to be a law of rectitude 
to Himself; and the most exalted spirits must ever continue 
to venerate His Mall as the source of their duty, the fountain 
of their blessedness, and the medium of sympathy with His 
goodness. 

As the relationship which subsists between God and His 
creatures is such as to invest Him with an absolute right to 
exact obedience from them, the question upon which the 
necessity of government must turn is, whether or not it is a 
matter of arbitrary discretion to prescribe a law. It would 
seem to be impossible but that a rule of some sort, either 
formally or \nrtually expressed, must be im])arted. As 
dependence is the very condition of its being, the creature 
would possess no authority to move, to exert a single faculty- 
or to love a single quality without some manifestation of 
the Divine pleasure. There must be some indication, direct 
or indirect, negative or positive, of the will of God, or the 
powers of a moral agent could be no more emi)loyed nor its 
susceptibilities developed than a stock or a stone be set in 



232 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

motion without the impression of an external force. Tlie 
creature is the absokite property of its Maker, and has no 
right to think its own thoughts or indulge its OAvn inclina- 
tions. To say that the constitution of its nature would 
necessarily impel it to some form of action is only to assert 
that the will of God, to which the peculiar tendencies of its 
constitution must be ultimately traced, has been indirectly 
communicated. Any expression of the Divine will is law. 
It is not the mode of expressing it that determines the obli- 
gation of the creature ; it is the reality of the fact. That 
mode may be by extraordinary signs, by written communi- 
cations, by an authorized ambassador, or by the constitution 
of the mind. But the will of the Creator, once known, is 
law to the creature. When, therefore, we inquire into the 
necessity of government, the single question is whether or 
not God possesses any will at all in regard to the conduct of 
intelligent agents. If He possesses any, be it of what cha- 
racter it may, that will is their rule, and necessarily places 
them under a government. To assert that He is totally 
destitute of any will in relation to their conduct involves a 
palpable contradiction. To express no will by external 
signs is to leave them to their own discretion, making 
it right for them to do what under other circumstances 
would be grossly censurable. To mai'k out no j)articular 
line of conduct by positive commandment is to commit 
them to the desires, aifections and impulses of their own 
nature ; it is indirectly to declare that the will of their 
Maker accords with the propensities and bias of their own 
minds, xVccording to the very terms of the hypothesis 
they are agents, they must act. I^ow, if the will of God 
is indifferent to the course of conduct to be jjursued, that is 
equivalent to saying that it is His will that they should act 
precisely as they pleased. To follow nature, the old Stoical 
maxim, would be, under such circumstances, as truly the 
law of their being as it was the expression of the Divine 
will in the original constitution of their minds. It is true 
that in such a condition they could do no wrong, because 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 233 

the will of God is supposed to tolerate everything without 
distinction of qualities. Government, then, iu some form 
or other, must exist. A creature has no more right to act 
than it has power to be, without the consent of the Almighty. 
Dependence, absolute, complete, inalienable, is the law of 
its existence. Whatever it performs must be in the way of 
obedience ; there can be no obedience without an indication 
of the will of a ruler, and no such indication without a 
government. It is, therefore, undeniably necessary that to 
justify a creature in acting at all there must be some expres- 
sion, more or less distinct, direct or indirect, of the will of 
its Creator. As, then, the Almighty, from the very neces- 
sity of the case, must will to establish some rule, we are 
prepared to inquire what kind of government the perfec- 
tions of His nature would impel Him to institute. 

It should not be forgotten that the great end in all His 
works, and especially in the creation and support of intelligent 
agents, is to declare the glory of His name — to manifest par- 
ticularly the moral attributes which adorn and exalt His 
character. The specific end for which conscience, under- 
standing and will were imparted to them was that they 
might love, venerate and praise the ineffable holiness of 
their Maker, and exemplify in the state of their own minds 
the moral perfections of the Deity. It was the purpose of 
their being that they might be " imitators of God as dear 
children." To suppose that the object of their existence 
should be disregarded by Himself, that He would abandon 
the end which he proposed to achieve in the noblest speci- 
mens of His power, or adopt no efficient measures to secure 
it, is to attribute an inconsistency, weakness and folly to the 
Supreme Disposer of events which would disgrace the hum- 
blest subject of His law. The immutability of His counsel 
is a firm guarantee that He would institute a government 
and prescribe a rule which should stand as a memorial to 
all generations of those eternal principles of rectitude which 
spring from His essence and regulate all the decisions of 
His will. The nature of the Divine Being as imperatively 



234 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

demands that the law of His dominions should be moral as 
the dependence of the creature requires that a law should 
exist. That the distinctions between right and wrong are 
not the arbitrary creatures of the Divine will, but essential 
emanations from the holiness of God, is a proposition M^hich 
lies at the basis of immutable morality. To say that God 
is the author of virtue, in such a sense as to deny to it a 
standard apart from the decisions of the Divine will, is vir- 
tually to affirm that His own perfections are the contingent 
acquisitions of choice, and not the unchangeable properties of 
His being. How God could be pre-eminently glorious on 
account of His holiness, when holiness itself was only an 
accidental accomplishment and no essential element of a just 
definition of the Deity, it is impossible for us to comprehend. 
That moral distinctions are eternal, necessary and immu- 
table, results, beyond a possibility of doubt, from what we 
are taught in the Scriptures concerning the Divine existence. 
If the unity of God imj)lied unity of Person, it would be 
hard, perhaps impossible, to conceive how He could have 
been a moral being when as yet there existed no object but 
Himself on which His affections might be placed. The 
terms which, in every language, are expressive of moral per- 
fections seem to point us to the existence of society as the 
only theatre in which they can be developed or expanded. 
Truth, justice, benevolence, fidelity and love are as obviously 
social aflFections as they are moral accomjjlishments ; and if 
there was ever a period when God was a solitary Being in 
the depths of eternity, how could benevolence, fidelity or 
love have existed in Him except as susceptibilities dormant 
in His nature, ready to be unfolded whenever an opportu- 
nity should offer ? Where was the field for the unceasing 
activity of His high and glorious perfections? I confess 
that, to my mind, absolute solitude of Being is wholly incom- 
patible with the actual exercise of moral qualities. Society 
is the element of virtue, and hence I turn with delight to 
those representations of the Scriptures in which it is implied 
that God is necessarily social as well as holy — that such is 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 235 

tlie nature of His essence that while absolutely one it exists 
eternally in a threefold distinction of Persons. The social 
relations of the Trinity — the mysterious intercourse of the 
Father, the Son and the Spirit — springing from the inscru- 
table nature of the Godhead, involve the existence of moral 
accomplishments on a magnificent and splendid scale. Whe- 
ther, however, the personal distinctions of the Godhead are 
the foundation of its moral perfections or not, it is certain 
that its social relations must have been the source of eternal 
confusion and disorder, unless they had been marked by the 
strictest integrity, fidelity and truth. 

If we are not permitted to assert that God is holy because 
He is social, and necessarily holy because necessarily social, 
we may yet with confidence maintain that being social He 
must be holy, since to deny to Him moral distinctions would 
be to attribute to His nature elements destructive of society. 
It may be disputed whether moral relations presuppose 
social relations as the necessary condition of their existence, 
but it cannot be denied that social relations imperatively 
demand the exercise of moral perfections in order to har- 
mony, perpetuity and peace. If then, as the Scriptures 
assert, God is by necessity of nature a social Being, tlie con- 
clusion inevitably follows that He is by the same necessity 
a moral Being. The expressions of His will must, there- 
fore, be in conformity with the holiness of His essence. 
The law which He prescribes as the standard of duty to 
His creatures must be a transcript of those perfections 
which He cannot disregard Avithout ceasing to be God. 
The necessity of His nature determines the decisions of 
His will, and as He Himself is holy the law must be holy, 
just and good. 

The confusion of the grounds of obligation and the nature 
of virtue has involved the discussion of the immutal)ility 
of moral distinctions in no little perplexity. There is no 
doubt, from the necessary dependence of its being, that the 
creature is bound to be holy because its Creator commands 
it. The Divine will is the only standard of moral obliga- 



236 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

tion. But there must be reiisons for the command Itself. 
To attribute a self-determining i)ower to the will of the 
Almighty when it is acknowledged to be an imperfection 
among men ; to suppose that His approbation of virtue is 
the result of choice, and that Pie might be indiiferent or 
ev^en opposed to it, would contradict our most exalted con- 
ceptions of His character. The motives, whatever they arc, 
which operate on the mind of the Eternal in 2)rescribing 
the command determine the nature of virtue. The reasons 
of His making it a duty define its essence. Still, that it is 
a duty is owing exclusively to the expression of His will. 
Our obligation does not depend upon abstract speculations 
on its origin, qualities or fitness ; be its nature what it may, 
it is law to us, because the Creator, who possesses an abso- 
lute propriety in us, has marked it out as the rule of our 
conduct. Hence we by no means, as some have supposed, 
derogate from the authority of the Divine will as the stand- 
ard of obligation when we go beyond it and attempt to dis- 
cover in the essential perfections of the Deity the grounds 
of it. These, in a modified sense, are a law to Himself, 
the standard of His own decrees, the ultimate source of 
His purposes and acts. 

Two principal elements of government — competent au- 
thority on the part of the governor, and a rule of life for 
the guidance of the governed — having been shown to spring 
necessarily from the mutual relations of God and the creature ; 
the character of the law as moral, reflecting the beauty of 
the Divine perfections, in opposition to a system of arbitrary 
precepts, having been also evinced ; it remains to be inquired 
whether the third and last element — the penal sanction — is 
likewise necessary, or is merely the dictate of public policy. 

If the most important object of punishment, as civilians 
generally assert, is the prevention of crime, the question is 
settled. It becojiies, then, a choice of expedients, and no 
reasons exist in the nature of things why this particular 
method should be adopted in preference to any other scheme 
promising equal success. If it be nothing but a means to an 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 2,37 

end, it falls within the province of wisdom, to be settled by 
considerations of fitness and expediency, and is therefore not 
to be discussed upon those eternal principles of rectitude 
which constitute the glory of God. According to this view, 
punishment is the demand, not of justice, but of public good, 
was instituted by polic}' and not by right — a conclusion so 
abhorrent to the instinctive sentimeuLS of man that the 
premises, however plausible, must be false from which it is 
deduced. 

Even in human governments, which contemplate the 
injury rather than the wickedness of actions, penal laws 
cannot be sustained upon the sole basis of expediencv. 
Nothing can be punished as hurtful which is not felt to be 
vicious. The moral sympathies of the people must be in 
harmony with the considerations of policy which determine 
the objects and severity of punishment, or the government 
will come to be regarded as an odious and intolerable 
tyranny. It is a strong proof of God's disapprobation of sin 
that it carries stamj^ed upon its face a character of mischief 
to the State which leagues society against it as a common 
nuisance, and makes its expulsion or restraint a public^ 
benefit as well as the satisfaction of a moral impulse. Such 
is the inseparable connection of social and moral order that 
whatever is hurtful to the one is prejudicial to the other; 
and as it is the purpose of God that men should live in a 
condition of society. He has made interest exactly to coincide 
with duty, so that the patronage of virtue is the surest safe- 
guard of public prosperity; and as nothing can be really 
pernicious Mdiich is not also morally wrong. He has so tem- 
pered the social constitution that all punishments must be 
founded in moral principles. It is the viciousness of actions 
that renders them punishable. Expediency may regulate 
the measure and extent of the pmiishmcnt, but something 
higher must settle the preliminary question whether they 
shall be punished at all or not. 

The principle, therefore, is not true, even in reference to 
human institutions, that the penalty of the law is the mci-e 



238 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

creature of expediency. Punishment in the State always 
presupposes crime as well as injury, and though the State 
chiefly aims to prevent the injury, yet it is the crime which 
justifies the remedy to the moral sense of the community. 
Hence the origin of penal laws must ultimately be traced to 
convictions of justice, and not to calculations of policy. 

That this is pre-eminently true of the Divine administra- 
tion is obvious from the fact that punishments are inflicted, 
and that with the intensest severity, when no motives of ex- 
pediency could be conceived to operate. Where will be the 
need when the just shall be exempt from the contingency of 
rebellion, when angels shall be confirmed in holiness, and 
when both together, united under a common Head, shall 
enjoy the security of grace, — where will be the need of stimu- 
lating diligence by the terrors of example, of torturing the 
guilty for the good of the innocent ? What are the motives 
of expediency that shall then doom the disobedient to the 
regions of despair, and expose them a prey to the undying 
worm and the fire that shall never be quenched ? 

The perpetuity of its torments long after it has ceased to 
inspire a salutary fear, the continuance of its horrors when 
none are in danger of transgression — when absolute security 
prevails in every loyal province of God's empire, when the 
grace of the Redeemer has for ever placed angels and just 
men beyond the possibility of temptation and of sin — is a 
conclusive proof that the fires of hell were never kindled by 
the breath of expediency, that its shame and agony and 
anguish are owing to principles eternal as its own darkness, 
immutable as its ow^n despair. That the eternity of future 
punishment, by operating as a perpetual motive upon the 
minds of the saints, is subservient to their stability, may pos- 
sibly be true ; but to say that this is the only account which 
can be given of it, or that the only reason of the second death 
is to preserve the living from its woe, is to shock every 
generous impulse of humanity. That would indeed be a 
terrible administration which purchased an incidental good 
at so transcendent a sacrifice of individual felicity. It would 



THE NECESSITY OP THE ATONEMENT. 239 

be an awful exhibition of benevolence to promote happiness 
by the spectacle of miseries which human language is incom- 
petent to express and the human understanding unable to 
conceive ; a strange doctrine, that hell was reared to display 
God's mercy, and that the groans of the damned and the 
wailings of the pit are songs of praise to the goodness of 
God! 

It is no trivial objection to the doctrine that the primar)- 
end of punishment is the public good — that upon tlie sui)po- 
sition of the existence of only a single moral agent no i)ro- 
vision is made for punishment as distinct from discipline. 
The eternal banishment of such an individual from God 
would be wholly inexplicable ; and yet the Scriptures un- 
questionably inculcate the doctrine that all unrighteousness 
of every transgressor, apart from his relations to other moral 
creatures, is-the object of God's abhorrence and the everlast- 
ing visitations of His wrath. Extreme cases, however im- 
probable, are a test of the accuracy of principles. 

As the government of God is founded in His right to 
exact obedience from His creatures, and as His laAV expresses 
the eternal rectitude of His nature, the characteristic end of 
punishment must evidently be, not the promotion of the 
public good — this, though a certain, is only an incidental 
result — but to enforce the authority of the Ruler and to illus- 
trate the estimate He puts upon His law, or tlie light in 
which He regards disobedience. As the primary design of 
all His institutions is to glorify Himself, we must seek for 
the object of each of the elements which characterize His law 
in its relations to the peculiar perfections of His own nature, 
and not to the interests of man. Taking our departure from 
this point, it is easy to show that in the government of God 
penal sanctions are indispensably necessary. Without them 
a sense of obligation cannot be produced, and God's hatred 
of sin cannot be expressed. The moral conduct of a creature 
must be regulated with a specific reference to the authority 
of its Maker ; there must be a distinct recognition of His 
right to command. Whatever may be the matter of its 



240 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

actions, their form must be derived from a sense of obliga- 
tion corresponding to the right which exists to rule. They 
must be done specifically as something due. Now there can 
be no such sense of obligation when a law is not enforced by 
a penal sanction. In that case the obedience of the creature 
must be the result, not of authority, but of persuasion. A 
precept without a penalty is only advice, or, in the strongest 
view, is simply a reqliest ; rewards without punishments are 
nothing but inducements ; and a dispensation conducted upon 
such principles is evidently a system of persuasion and not 
of authoritative government. Obedience is, in that case, 
compliance with the impulse of our own minds, and not sub- 
mission to the rightful demands of another ; we act right to 
please ourselves, and not to please the Almighty. We recog- 
nize not His will, but our own gratification. Such absolute 
sovereignty of the creature, even in doing what is materially 
right, is inconsistent with its dependence. The essential 
principle of all its morality must be compliance with the 
will of God, not because it is grateful to our nature or adapted 
to our impulses, but because it is His will. It belongs to 
the Deity alone to follow nature ; all the creatures of His 
power are creatures of obligation. The constitution of our 
minds may be a medium through which the will of the Al- 
mighty is revealed, but we are required to yield to its pro- 
pensities, not because we are so constituted, but because our 
Creator demands it. In all instances in which the frame 
and temper of our minds are inconsistent with the precepts 
of His mouth we are to crucify nature and follow God. 
His will, however communicated, is our only law. Now, in 
order that it may be felt as law and produce a corresponding 
sense of obligation, it must be enforced by a penal sanction. 
This upholds and supports the authority of the Creator; it 
keeps prominently in view the dependence of the creature, 
and contrasts the just supremacy of the one with the proper 
subordination of the other. It is remarkable that in all 
languages the term which expresses a conviction of duty is 
drawn from the analogy of physical violence ; showing the 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 241 

universal sentiment of the race that moral obligation is a 
species of force, a sort of bondage or constraint — a necessity- 
laid upon the subject which he '^ares not resist. If I may 
be allowed to repeat what I have formerly uttered from this 
desk, the least attention to our moral emotions, and the 
language by which the universal consent of the race has 
uniformly described them, must convince us that conscience 
is a prospective principle — that its decisions are by no means 
final, but only the preludes of a higher sentence to be pro- 
nounced by a higher court. It derives all its authority 
from anticipations of the future. It brings before us the 
dread tribunal of eternal justice and almighty power; it 
summons us to the awful presence of God ; it wields His 
thunder and wears His smiles. When a man of principle 
braves calumny, reproach and persecution, when he stands 
unshaken in the discharge of duty amid public opposition 
and private treachery, when no machinations of malice or 
seductions of flattery can cause him to bend from the path 
of integrity, — that must be a powerful support through which 
he can bid defiance to the " storms of fate." He must feel 
that a strong arm is underneath him ; and though the eye of 
sense can perceive nothing in his circumstances but terror, 
confusion and dismay, he sees his mountain surrounded by 
"chariots of fire and horses of fire," which sustain his soul in 
unbroken tranquillity. In the approbation of his conscience 
there is lifted up the light of the Divine countenance upon 
him, and he feels the strongest assurance that all things shall 
work together for his ultimate good. Conscience anticipates 
the rewards of the just, and in the conviction which it in- 
spires of Divine protection lays the foundation of heroic 
fortitude. When, on the contrary, the remembrance of some 
fatal crime rankles in the breast, the sinner's dreams are 
disturbed by invisible ministers of vengeance and tlie fall of a 
leaf can strike him with horror ; in every shadow he sees a 
ghost, in every tread he hears an avenger of blood, and in 
every sound the trump of doom. What is it that invests his 
conscience with such terrible power to torment ? Is there 
Vol. II.— 16 



242 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

nothing here but the natural operation of a simple and 
original instinct ? Who does not see that " wickedness, con- 
demned by her own witness, and being pressed with con- 
science, always forecasteth grievous things?" — that the alarm 
and agitation and fearful forebodings of the sinner arise from 
the terrors of an offended Judge and insulted Lawgiver ? An 
approving conscience is the consciousness of right, of having 
done what has been commanded, and of being now entitled 
to the favour of the Judge. Remorse is the sense of ill 
desert. The criminal does not feel that his present pangs 
are his punishment ; it is the future, the unknown and por- 
tentous future, that fills him with consternation. He deserves 
ill, and the dread of receiving it makes him tremble. 

To remove the penalty from the Divine law is to wrest 
the sceptre from the hands of the Deity, to pluck from His 
brow the crown which adorns it, to deprive Plim of the 
essential dignity of His character, and to present Him before 
His creatures in the debasing posture of a suppliant at their 
feet. He ceases to be the august and glorious Monarch of the 
skies, doing His pleasure among the armies of heaven and the 
inhabitants of earth ; disrobed of His majesty. He no longer 
thunders with a voice at which nature shakes and the guilty 
tremble, but dwindles down into a feeble petitioner, whose 
prayers and entreaties may be despised with impunity. 
Such degradation of the Supreme Being cannot be tolerated 
even in thought. He must be able to enforce His will or 
He ceases to be God. He must speak with a voice of 
authority ; resistless ]:>ower must stand ready to support 
His commands. They must be uttered in a tone which 
impresses the conviction that they must be obeyed — that dis- 
obedience is certain and infallible destruction. They must, 
in other words, oblige. 

But Avhether a penal sanction be necessary to create a 
sense of obligation or not, it is the inevitable result of the 
Divine disapprobation of sin. God is of purer eyes than 
to behold iniquity. Such is the transcendent purity of His 
nature that even the heavens are not clean in His sight, and 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 243 

He charges His angels with folly. The umittcrable bless- 
edness which accrues to the Persons of the Trinity from 
their mysterious communion with each other is to be ascribed 
to the confidence, harmony and love, the immaculate holi- 
ness and truth, which belong e&sentially to the nature of the 
Godhead. As the essential beatitude of the Deity is the 
result, the necessary result, of His moral perfections — as it is 
the prerogative of holiness alone to be surrounded with 
light and to be the parent of joy — an indissoluble connccv 
tion must subsist between wretchedness and guilt. The 
favour of God is the only source of enjoyment to the crea- 
ture. Whatever is beautiful or attractive in subordinate 
objects, whatever can adorn, dignify or please, the embel- 
lishments of life and the charms of friendship, arc but fee- 
ble emanations from Him who concentrates in Himself all 
these scattered perfections, and without whose permission 
they would in vain be sought to adminster comfort to the 
heart. God has reserved it to Himself as His distinguish- 
ing privilege to be the satisfying portion of the soul, and 
apart from Him all sublunary materials will prove as dust 
and ashes to the wretch who is famishing for food. Now, 
if the essential holiness of God is such that He cannot tole- 
rate iniquity nor look upon transgression without the utmost 
abhorrence, it is evident that the " ungodly shall not stand 
in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the 
righteous." The least taint of impurity must debar its 
victim from communion with Him, expel it from the source 
of all joy and felicity, and doom it consequently to solitude 
and sorrow as the ancient leper was banished from the 
society of men. To be driven from the presence of God is 
to be rendered miserable. The negation of delight in an 
active creature is, in its effects, a positive and bitter calamity. 
It is a penal evil, the legitimate consequence of transgres- 
sion. Hence a penalty is necCvSsarily connected with a vio- 
lation of the law. Every step in this reasoning is intui- 
tively evident. God is essentially holy ; communion with 
Him is the fountain of happiness ; none can enjoy it but 



244 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

those who are holy ; therefore the disobedient cannot bo 
happy ; and, as to an active being there is no condition of 
absohitc indifference, the negation of happiness is equiva- 
lent to the infliction of misery. 

There is another view of the subject, which shows that 
something more awful than negative ills ought to be ex- 
pected as the wages of sin. The light in which God looks 
upon rebellion it is exceedingly proper, for the glory of 
His name, to make known unto His creatures. His holi- 
ness is declared by banishing the guilty from His presence — 
His hatred of sin by pouring out upon them the vials of 
His wrath. The extent to which He disapproves of trans- 
gression cannot be revealed by negative penalties. It is not 
enough to dry up the fountain of felicity, to say to the rebel 
that he shall have no more to do with peace ; the waters of 
bitterness and death must also be let loose to desolate his 
soul ; Tophet must be ordained, the pile thereof juniper 
and much wood, while the breath of the Lord as a stream 
of brimstone doth kindle it for ever and ever. In the 
penal fires of hell we contemplate the inextinguishable 
hatred of God to all the forms of iniquity. They result 
from the purity of infinite holiness in terrible collision 
with guilt.^ 

This brief discussion of tlie elements of government has 

* The same view of the subject is taken by Owen in his Treatise of 
Divine .Justice and in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. 
The following extract may serve as a specimen of his reasoning : 

" It will be granted by some that there is such a natural property in 
God as that wliich we contend for, but it doth not thence follow, they say, 
that it is necessary that Go(\ should punish all sin, but He doth it and 
may do it by an absolute and free act of His will. There is, therefore, 
no cogent argument to be taken from the consideration hereof for the 
necessity of the suffering of Christ. The heads of some few arguments, 
to the contrary, shall put a close to this whole discourse. Fii-st, God 
hatetli sin. He hateth every sin ; He cannot otherwise do. Let any man 
assert the contrary— namely, that God doth not hate sin, or that it is not 
necessary to Him on account of His own nature that He should hate sin — 
and the consequence thereof will quickly be discerned. For to say that God 
may not hate sin is at once to take away all natural and necessary difl'er- 
ence between moral good and evil. For if He may not hate U, He may 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATOXEMEXT, 245 

beeu sufficient, I apprehend, to establish its necessity and to 
correct prevailing errors in relation to its origin. While it 
is true that the highest felicity accrues to the creature from 

love it. The mere act.s of God's will wliichare not regulated by anything in 
His nature, but only wisdom and liberty, are not determined to this or ilmt 
object, but He may so will anything, or the contrary. And then if God 
may love sin, He may approve it, and if He approve sin, it is not a sin, 
which is a plain contradiction. That God hateth sin, see Ps. v. 4, 5 ; xi. 
5; xiv. 1; liii. 2; Lev. xxvi. 30; Deut. xvi. 22; 1 Kings xxi. 2G; Prov. 
XV. 5 ; Hab. i. 13. And this hatred of sin in God can be nothing but the 
displicency in, or contrariety of. His nature to it, with an iranuitable will 
of punishing it thence arising. For to have a natural displicency against 
sin, and not an immutable will of punishing it, is unworthy of God, for it 
must arise from impotency. To punish sin therefore according to its 
demerit is necessary to Him. Secondly, God with respect unto sin and shi- 
ners is called a consuming fire. Heb. xii. 19 ; Deut. iv. 24 ; Isa. xxxiii. 15 • 
and V. 24, and xiii. 14. Something we are taught by the allusion in this 
expression. This is not the manner of God's operation. God worketli 
freely, the fire burns necessarily. God, I say, always worketh freely with 
a freedom accompanying His operation, though in some cases, on some 
suppositions, it is necessary that He should work as He doth. It is free 
to Him to speak unto us or not, but on supposition that He will do so it 
is necessary that He speak truly, for God cannot lie. Fire, therefore, 
acts by brute inclination according to its form and prmciple ; God acts b_y 
His understanding and will with a freedom accompanying all His opera- 
tions. This, tlierefore, we are not taught by this allusion. The compari- 
son, therefore, must hold with respect unto the eveiif, or we are deceived, 
not instructed by it. As, therefore, the fire necessarily burnetii and con- 
sumeth all combustible things whereunto it is applied, iu its way of ope- 
ration which is natural, so doth God necessarily punish sin when it lies 
before Him in judgment, in His way of operation which is free and intel- 
lectual. Thirdly, it is necessary that God should do everything that is 
requisite unto His own glory. This the perfection of His nature and 
existence do require. So He doth all thmgs for Himself. It is neces- 
sary, therefore, that nothing fall out in the universe which should ab.-<o- 
lutely impeach the glory of God or contradict the design of its manifes- 
tation. Now suppose that God would and should let sin go unpunished, 
where would be the glory of His righteousness as He is the Supreme 
Ruler over all? For to omit what justice requireth is no less a dispar- 
agement unto it than to do what it forbids. Prov. xvii. 15. .\nd where 
would be the glory of His holiness, supposing the description given of it, 
Hab. i. 13? Where would be that fear and reverence which is due unto 
Him? Where thatsen.se of His terribleness ? Where that secret awe 
of Him which ought to be in the hearts and thoughts of men, if once He 
were looked on as such a God, as such a Governor, as unto whom it is a 



246 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

uniform obedience to the law of its Creator, it is in no sense 
true that tl^e design of government in reference to God is 
to secure the happiness of His subjects. It is intended, as 
we have seen, to express His supremacy, and springs from 
the relations He sustains to His creatures. Punishment in 
the Divine administration is not an expedient to prevent 
the progress of rebellion, but a necessary emanation from 
the holiness of God and a just expression of His hatred to 
iniquity. The inflexibility of the law does not result from 

matter of mere freedom, choice and liberty whether He will punish sin 
or not, as being not concerned in point of righteousness or holiness so to 
do? Nothing can tend more than such a persuasion to ingenerate an 
apprehension in men that God is such an One as themselves, and that He 
is so little concerned in their sins that they need not themselves be much 
concerned in them. 

" Such thoughts they are apt to conceive if He do but hold His peace 
for a season, and not reprove them in their sins. Ps. 1. 21. And if their 
hearts are fully set in them to do evil, because in some signal instances 
judgment is not speedily executed (Eccles. viii. 11), how much more will 
such pernicious consequents ensue if they are persuaded that it may be 
God will never punish them for their sins, seeing it is absolutely at His 
pleasure whether He will do so or not ; neither His righteousness nor 
His holiness nor His glory require any such thing at His hands. This 
is not the language of the law — no, nor yet of the consciences of men 
unless they are debauched. Is it not with most Christians certain that 
eventually God lets no sinner go unpunished ? Do they not believe that 
all who are not interested by faith in the sufferings of Christ, or at least 
that are not Saved on the account of His undergoing the punishment due 
to sin, must perish eternally ? And if this be the absolute rule of God's 
proceeding toward sinners, if He never went out of the way of it in any 
one instance, whence should it proceed but from what His nature doth 
require ? Lastly, God is, as we have shown, the righteous Judge of all 
the world. What law is unto another judge who is to jiroceed by it, that 
is the infinite rectitude of His own nature unto Him. And it is necessary 
to a judge to punish where the law requires him so to do, and if he do not 
he is not just. And because God is righteous by an essential righteous- 
ness, it is necessary for Him to punish sin as it is contrary thereunto, and 
not to acquit the guilty. And what is sin cannot but be sin, neither can 
God order it otherwise. For what is contrary to His nature cannot by 
any act of His will be rendered otherwise. And if sin be sin necessarily, 
because of its contrariety to the nature of God, on the supposition of the 
order of all things by Himself created, the punishment of it is on the same 
ground necessary also.'* — Hebrews, vol, i., p. 504, Tegrjs Edition. 



THE NECESSITY ^.i- THE ATONEMENT. 247 

a desire to promote the safety of the governed, but from it.s 
own essential character as founded in the immutable dis- 
tinctions of morality, as arising from the essential perfec- 
tions of the Godhead, and as holy, just and good. The 
glory of God is the ultimate end, and the perfections of God 
the primary source, of all the arrangements of His govern- 
ment ; they rest upon principles grand as His nature, endur- 
ing as truth and immutable as holiness. He is the great 
centre at which, wherever they begin, all our inquiries must 
terminate. " For of Him and through Him and to Him 
are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen." 

If, then, the government of God is founded in princij)le.s 
of immutable necessity, it is perfectly preposterous to dream 
of the unconditional pardon of sin. Its punishment is fixed 
as immovably as the law, and the law is as jjermanent as 
those perfections of the Deity of which it is a transcript. 
Until the Deity can be subject to change, or holiness made a 
contingent acquisition, the wages of sin must, in every in- 
stance, be death. 

There is no principle on which unconditional remission 
can be justified. If the Deity should yield to the impulse 
of compassion and retract the penalty of His OAvn law. He 
would evidently manifest a higher regard for the interests 
of a sinner than for the glory of His own name. He would 
receive a being into favour with whom His holiness pre- 
cludes communion, and would, consequently, veil His moral 
perfections to compass a subordinate end. This would be 
to debase the dignity of moral distinctions, to degrade the 
majesty of virtue, to cast a reproach upon the goodness of 
law, in order to save the guilty from a doom to which justice 
has consigned them. It would be, in short, to resolve gov- 
ernment into motives of expediency, and to deny its necessity 
as an enduring; memorial of the moral character of God. 

When the punishment of sin is affirmed to be necessary 
and therefore inevitable, it is not intended to inculcate the 
idea that it takes place according to the analogy of physical 
laws. While the essential holiness of God renders it abso- 



248 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

lutely certain that it must take place, there is yet a liberty 
in God as to the mode, time and measure of its infliction. 
He is not restrained to a single method or a single period. 
He is free to regulate severity by the dictates of wisdom — to 
administer justice according to the counsel of His will. All 
that is fixed and immutable is, that He should not forego 
the glory of His character, disregard His right to the alle- 
giance of the creature, and suffer the rebel to escape from 
His hands. He cannot change the law any more than He 
can change His perfections, nor remit its penalty any more 
than He can relax His opposition to sin. The princii^les of 
His government are fixed, immutable and eternal ; the details 
of its admin isti-ation belong to His sovereign discretion, and 
are to be settled by the decisions of His will. In the selec- 
tion, adjustment and arrangement of them there is full liberty ; 
but all else is founded in His nature, and is certain, uniform, 
unvarying as fate. 

The incongruity is so obvious between the character of 
God and communion with a sinner, that the most extravagant 
advocates of the right to pardon without a satisfaction have 
not scrupled to insist upon the need of repentance as an 
essential condition for procuring absolution. By repentance 
they maintain that the moral qualities of the transgressor 
are changed ; and though he is substantially the same being, 
vet in regard t(j the condition of his heart, for which alone 
he was deserving of punishment, he is essentially different 
from wliat he was when he drank in iniquity like water. 
It has been usual to reply to reasoning of this sort by argu- 
ments drawn from the analogy of nature or considerations 
of expediency,^ but the true answer is that repentance is 
impossible. If the government of God be necessary, the 
first act of transgression effects a separation between God and 
the creature ; the spiritual life of the sinner is destroyed, and 
he can no more restore himself to his original position than 
the dead can return from the darkness of the tomb. The 

^ For specimens of such arguments see Butler's Analogy, Pt. ii., c. 5.^ 
Magee's 1st Discourse, p. 5. 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 249 

union of the creature with God, which, in an unfallen state, 
depends upon uniform obedience to the law, is tlie source of 
its purity, happiness and strength. The very nionieiit in 
which it fails to recognize its absolute dependence and tlie 
consequent supremacy of the Divine will, it breaks the tie 
which binds it to its Maker, is treated at once as an alien 
and an outcast, passes under the condemnation of the law, 
and becomes for ever estranged from good. The slightest 
sin, like a puncture of the heart, is attended with death. 
The penalty is incurred by the first act of disobedience. 
Now that penalty, in its mildest and lowest form, implies 
banishment from God. But repentance involves a restora- 
tion to holiness and communion with God, from which the 
transgressor is debarred. Repentance and the curse are con- 
sequently contradictory ; and hence to suppose that a con- 
demned sinner can repent is to suppose that, at the same 
time, he can be and not be under the curse. The condem- 
nation of the sinner, therefore, for ever precludes the possi- 
bility of repentance ; it places him beyond the pale of com- 
munion with his Maker and consigns him to everlasting 
despair. The one transgression of the one man undid the 
race. To suppose that apostasy from God is a result accom- 
plished by a course of disobedience is as unphilosophical as 
it is unscriptural. The separation from God is instantaneous ; 
the entire disruption of the moral constitution, the total 
desolation of the character, may, however, be slow and pro- 
gressive. Life may be suddenly extinguished, but the decay 
of the lifeless body may be the work of years. 

Repentance, consequently, without a satisfliction would 
involve the same difficulties with absolute remission. It 
would be to the same extent an impeachment of the essential 
perfections of God ; it implies pardon as its basis, and can 
never take place where a satisfaction has not been previously 
rendered. It is an inseparable element of the curse that the 
sinner cannot repent. All the affections and moral exercises 
which it includes presuppose that the exile is recalled from 
banishment ; that the anger of God is removed ; that a re- 



250 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

union with his Maker has taken place ; and that the cui-se 
of the law is revoked. 

By repentance is intended a thorough and radical cliange 
of the moral character of the sinner — all that is involved in 
the Christian doctrines of the new birth and sanctification. 
Remorse, shame, anguish and despair, the agony and horror 
of great darkness, which were experienced by such men as 
Cain and Judas, are not the ingredients of true repentance ; 
these terrors of conscience reign with unbroken dominion in 
hell — they are the constant companions of devils and lost 
men, and arc rather the belchings of guilt than expressions 
of sorrow for sin. They who are most keenly tortured by 
them, so far from reforming or even attempting to reform, 
blaspheme the God of heaven with increased malignity, and 
cherish a deeper hate to all that is holy, pure and good. 
Such repentance is, indeed, possible to the most abandoned 
fiend, but it is as worthless as it is easy. 

As the true amendment of the heart and life is beyond 
the capacity of the sinner, so it is equally above his strength 
to render a full satisfaction to the violated law. The penalty' 
must necessarily be infinite. It is the measure of God's 
authority, of the holiness of His nature and of His hatred to 
sin ; it is designed to show the wrath of the Deity and to make 
His power known. It is a conspicuous exhibition of the 
extent to which the Divine nature is opposed to transgression. 
It is a ruinous mistake that the malignity of guilt is de- 
termined by a standard drawn from the resources and capaci- 
ties of the rebel. Though finite himself, he may yet perpe- 
trate an evil of such desperate enormity as to involve, upon 
the strictest principles of justice, everlasting consequences; as 
a feeble impulse may set a ball in motion which the hand that 
impressed the original force shall find it impossible to resist. 
The true view of the subject is that, as the perfections of 
God are the ultimate standard of rectitude, and His will, 
supported by His power, the ultimate standard of obligation, 
so the discrepancy between Him and sin is the exact measure 
of its demerit, and the resources of His might the only limit 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 251 

to the actual severity of punishment. His glory is the true 
criterion of all that is good, venerable or lovely; and a just 
definition of virtue fixes necessarily an accurate conception 
of vice. We know the one by its repugnance to the other. 
Hence every sin — God being infinitely holy and cherishing 
an infinite detestation of all that is wrong — every sin entails 
after it the terrible necessity of eternal punishment ; it fast- 
ens upon its victim a worm which can never die, and kindles 
around him a fire which can never be quenched.^ 

' The following argument of that great man, President Edwards, deserves 
to be seriously pondered by those who are disposed to make a mock of 
sin : 

" I shall briefly show that it is not inconsistent with the justice of God 
to inflict an eternal punishment. To evince this, I shall use only one 
argument — viz. : that sin is heinous enough to deserve such a punishment, 
and such a punishment is no more tlian proportionable to the evil or 
demerit of sin. If the evil of sin be infinite, as the punishment is, then it 
is manifest that the punishment is no more than proportionable to the sin 
punished, and is no more than sin deserves. And if the obligation to 
love, honour and obey God be infinite, then sin, which is the violation of 
this obligation, is a violation of infinite obligation, and so is an infinite 
evil. Again, if God be infinitely worthy of love, honour and obedience, 
then our obligation to love, honour and obey Him is infinitely great. So 
that God being infinitely glorious, or infinitely worthy of our love, honour 
and obedience, our obligation to love, honour and obey Him, and so to 
avoid all sin, is infinitely great. Again, our obligation to love, honour 
and obey God being infinitely great, sin is the violation of infinite obliga- 
tion, and so is an infinite evil. Once more, sin, being an infinite evil, de- 
serves an infinite punishment — an infinite punishment is no more than it 
deserves : Therefore such punishment is just, which was the thing to be 
proved. There is no evading the force of this reasoning, but by denying 
that God, the Sovereign of the universe, is infinitely glorious, which T pre- 
sume none of my hearers will venture to do. 

"This appears as it is not only not unsuitable that sin slu)uld be thus 
punished, but it is positively suitable, decent and proper. If this be made 
to appear, that it is positively suitable that sin should be thus punished, 
then it will follow that tlie perfections of God require it, for certainly the 
perfections of God require what is proper to be done. The perfection and 
excellency of God require that to take place which is perfect, excellent 
and proper in its own nature. But that sin should be punished eternally 
is such a thing, which ajipears by the following considerations : 1. It is 
suitable that God should infinitely hate sin and be an infinite enemy to it. 
Sin, as I have before shown, is an infinite evil, and therefore is infinitely 
odious and detestable. It is proper that God should hate every evil, and 



252 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

Annihilation, at any period of his woe, would be as grossly 
inconsistent with the claims of justice as to assist a culprit in 
escaping from his prison in order to screen him from the shame 
of the ffil^bet. It would be a violent arrestincr of the course 
of the law. Justice could as nmch tolerate that the sinner 
should be taken to heaven, as that he should be totally de- 
stroyed ; in either case it would lose its victim. An infinite 
penalty can only be inflicted upon a finite creature by eter- 
nity of torment. Whatever freedom there may be in the 
Supreme Ruler to delay, modify or adjust the ingredients 
of anguish which constitute the cup of trembling adminis- 
tered to the lips of the damned, the unchanging principles 
of rectitude imperatively demand that eternity should be the 
measure of their woe ; that the darkness to which they are 
consigned should be the blackness of darkness for ever ; that 
the smoke of their torment should ascend for ever and ever. 
The severest penances, the most painful privations, the cost- 
liest oblations and the richest sacrifices are incompetent to 
remove the sentence or to cancel the handwriting of ordi- 
nances against them. What proportions can the tortures 
of the body — the keenest agonies of which it is susceptible, 
inflicted and endured in this sublunary state — bear to the in- 
finite load of wretchedness which is due to the smallest sin ? 
What can haircloth and rags avail — laceration of the flesh, 

hate it according to its odious and detestable nature. And sin being inii- 
nitely evil and odious, it is proper that God should hate it infinitely. 2. 
If infinite hatred of sin be suitable to the Divine character, then the 
expressions of such hatred are also suitable to His character. Because that 
which is suitable to be is suitable to be expressed : that which is lovely 
in itself is lovely when it appears. If it be suitable that God should be 
an infinite enemy to sin, or that He should hate it infinitely, then it is 
suitable that He should act as such an enemy. If it be suitable that He 
should hate and have enmity against sin, then it is suitable for Him to 
express that hatred and enmity in that to which hatred and enmity by its 
own nature tends. But certainly hatred in its own nature tends to oppo- 
sition, and to set itself against that which is hated, and to procure its 
evil and not its good ; and that in proportion to the hatred. Great hatred 
naturally tends to the great evil, and infinite hatred to the infinite evil of 
its object." — Sermon on the Eternity of Hell Torments, Works, vol. vii., pp. 
467-470. 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 253 

penury and want, voluntary exile from home and friends, 
needless exposure to scorching suns or withering cold, — 
what signify ull the devices of superstition and fear, when 
the real doom incurred is the wrath of God, and the just 
measure of its severity tlic omnipotence of His arm ? Vain 
here is the help of man. To come before the Lord with 
thousands of rams and ten thousands of rivers of oil, to 
bring to His altar the fruit of the body for the sin of the 
soul, to mourn in bitterness and weep tears of blood, would be 
but a poor substitute for that eternity of horror, that endless 
night of despair, that hopeless banishment from God, which 
is the legitimate consequence of sin. The insulted justice 
of God is terrible beyond the power of mortal expression or 
of mortal thouo-ht. The collision of eternal rectitude with 
human guilt, the conflict of boundless power with the object 
of its inextinguishable hate, it belongs to eternity alone to 
disclose, since eternity alone is the theatre of the strife. But 
to dream of satisfying, by tears, penances and mortal blood, 
the awful justice of such an immaculately holy Being as God 
is to suppose that eternity can be swallowed up in time — the 
infinite lost in the finite. 

Is there, then, no hope? Must the whole race of man 
perish beneath the frown of the Almighty ? Shall none be 
found to ransom or to save ? 

To answer this question apart from Revelation is beyond 
the compass of created wisdom. The essential rectitude of 
God precludes the possibility of unconditional pardon ; the 
principles of His government, springing necessarily from the 
perfections of His nature and His relations to the creature, 
are fixed, immutable, eternal. The glory of His own great 
Name is deeply and critically involved in the vindication 
of His justice, holiness and truth. He can by no means 
clear the guilty. The analogy of nature might indeed sug- 
gest the possibility of deliverance, as we find in the ordi- 
nary dispensations of Providence that the consequences of 
folly are not unfrequently averted by the agency of others. 
But w^here shall. a fit mediator be found? It is certain as 



254 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

the immutability of God that no substitute could achieve 
our redemption who was not competent to bear the load of 
our guilt, to satisfy the insulted justice of our Ruler, to 
drain the cup of trembling to its dregs. The doctrine of 
substitution is unquestionably an ultimate principle in the 
moral government of God. Mediation pervades the arrange- 
ments of Providence as well as the economy of grace. But 
the grand difficulty is to find a representative who, without 
the entire destruction of himself, could exhaust the curse 
of the law^ 

Whatever glimmering of hope the doctrine of substitu- 
tion might impart, it would seem, must be instantly extin- 
euished when we call to mind the severe and arduous con- 
ditions under which alone it could be rendered available to 
sinners. The justice of God is too formidable to be encoun- 
tered by created strength ; it hangs like a dark cloud over 
the prospects of man and mocks his most anxious efforts to 
secure a Redeemer. Whither shall the sinner turn fof 
help ? Shall he look to his own brethren, the descendants 
of Adam's race ? As each successive generation comes into 
being it passes under the curse ; every man has iniquities of 
his own to bear, and none can by any means redeem his 
brother nor give to God a ransom for his soul. Shall he 
invoke the assistance of the angels above ? The law might 
fitly turn aside from their proffered substitution, as it was 
man who had sinned and man who must die. Even if this 
difficulty were vanquished, and an angel should become 
incarnate, where is its power to contend with the justice of 
God ? What created arm could meet the thunder of insulted 
holiness, and endure the storm of eternal wrath ? Who can 
stand when Omnipotence wields the sword and sin provokes 
the blow ? From the single element of substitution to work 
out the problem of human redemption is beyond the skill 
of angels and the archangel, of cherubim and seraphim. 
We might climb the loftiest heights and explore the utmost 
bounds of this widespread universe, every creature might be 
summoned in review before us, and heaven, earth and hell 



TPIE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 255 

be laid under tri})ute, and still not a single being could be 
found able to endure the curse of the law ; and yet this is 
the only conceivable condition on which salvation could be 
given. God cannot absolutely pardon. He can only trans- 
fer the punishment. He cannot set aside the sanction of 
His law, but only can give it a different direction. Who, 
then, can save from going down to the pit ? It was reserved 
for the wisdom of the Eternal to answer this solemn ques- 
tion. Tlie sublime idea of the incarnation and death of the 
Son could only have originated in the mind of Him who is 
wonderful in counsel and unsearchable in His judgments. 
In Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, we behold a 
kinsman, who, through the eternal Spirit, is able to endure 
the wrath of God — a man who can satisfy justice and yet 
recover from the stroke — a Being who could die and in 
dying conquer death. Great indeed is the mystery of god- 
liness, but it is no less glorious than great. Through the 
infinite wisdom of God a suitable substitute is found who 
takes the place of the guilty, assumes their burden, and 
bears it away to a land uninhabited. In the scheme of 
redemption God visits the transgressions of sinners in the 
person of the Son, the law is executed in its utmost rigours, 
and God is just, perfectly and gloriously just, in justifying 
those who believe. Their sins have been as truly punished 
as if they themselves had been consigned to the darkness 
of hell. 

Delightful and interesting as it might be to prosecute an 
inquiry into the precise nature of the atonement, and to 
define the limitations and restrictions under which substi- 
tution is admissible, my limits warn me that such a discus- 
sion cannot be undertaken now. It is enough for my pres- 
ent purpose to have indicated the ground upon which, as I 
conceive, the necessity of the atonement should be made to 
depend. If I have succeeded in proving that the govern- 
ment of God is not the dictate of policy nor the creature 
of contingency, but a necessary emanation from the Divine 
perfections and the relations Avhich He sustains to His crea- 



256 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

tures ; that some rule must, from tlie nature of the case, be 
prescribed, and that none can possibly proceed from God but 
one which is holy and just and good ; and that a penal sanc- 
tion is an essential element of moral law ; if I have succeeded 
in establishing these propositions, it certainly follows, as an 
inevitable consequence, that God cannot, without denying 
Himself, any more dispense with the penalty than He can 
with the precept itself. The unconditional pardon of sin 
would be morally wrong — in open and flagrant collision with 
the eternal principles of right. Punitive justice is as truly 
essential to God as veracity or honour, and He can no 
more remit the punishment of the guilty without a satis- 
faction than He can utter a falsehood or break a promise. 

Upon the broad basis, therefore, of the inviolable sanc- 
tity which attaches to the penalty of the Divine law, I 
place the necessity of vicarious atonement. It is not merely 
fit, proper and highly expedient, a stroke of infinite policy, 
a masterly evolution of Divine tactics ; it is absolutely 
indispensable upon the supposition of mercy. Without 
it remission could not exist ; and as it is the burden of the 
Gospel, it is therefore the power of God unto salvation, — 
the alternatives, and the only alternatives, being atonement 

or ETERNAL DEATH. 

It would be easy to show that this is the only hypothesis 
upon which the scriptural account of a satisfaction to jus- 
tice can be consistently maintained, and that the majority 
of those who adopt utilitarian views of government, while 
they profess to believe in the penal sufferings of our Lord, 
do in reality make them a substitute for the proper curse 
of the law. They represent the death of the Redeemer as a 
grand moral expedient, by which the same impression is pro- 
duced in regard to the character of God as would have been 
produced by the everlasting ruin of the guilty. It is some- 
thing in place of the literal infliction of the penalty of the 
law, which secures the same viltimate result. Such perver- 
sions of the truth will be effectually prevented by just con- 
ceptions of the moral government of God, its origin, nature 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 257 

and ends ; and such views I have chosen to exhibit rather 
than combat systems of error in detail. 

At the close ^ of my ministerial labours among you as 
members of this institution, I have brought this subject 
before you on account of its immense importance in relation 
to the glory of God, and its vital connection with the dear- 
est interests of our race. The cross of Christ is the centre 
of the Christian system. From it we are instructed in the 
character of our Judge, the malignity of sin, our present 
condition and the prospects which await us beyond the 
grave. The scheme of redemption is a bright and glorious 
page in the history of God's administrations — a new book 
sealed with seven seals, containing lessons of surpassing inte- 
rest, treating of Jehovah in loftier strains than the seraph's 
heart had ever reached or the seraph's tongue had ever 
uttered until the Lion of the Tribe of Judah prevailed to 
unloose the seals, to reveal the mysteries, and invited the 
nations to behold their God. His glory is here displayed 
with a lustre in comparison with which all other manifesta- 
tions of His name are as the feeble light of the stars.- 
Creation proclaimed His power, Providence His goodness, 
Conscience His justice, and Hell His vengeance. These 
were so many stars, differing from each other in glory, in 
which we might see all that could be known of God ; but 
when Jesus came the Sun of Righteousness arose, darkness 
was scattered, and the light of God's glory, reflected from 
the face of His Son, darted its rays through heaven, earth 
and hell. The Cross became the centre of universal attrac- 
tion, displayed the perfections of Deity in singular and rare 
combination, and was the source at once of rapture to angels, 
of terror to the lost and of hope to men. The death of 
Christ is without doubt the sublimest event in the annals 
of time or the records of eternity. And in what a light 
does it present the malignity of sin ! What a commentary 
upon its intrinsic demerit and turpitude is furnished in the 

* This address was delivered to the class, the members of which were 
graduated the next day. 
Vol.. II.— 17 



258 THE I^'ECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

groans, agony and anguish of the Son of God ! In the 
Cross it is proclaimed, in living characters, to be the abomina- 
ble thing which God hates ; and if God spared not His own 
dear Son — holy, harmless and undefiled as He was — when 
He occupied the legal position of the guilty, we may be as 
fully assured as if it were written in letters of fire upon 
the blue vault of heaven that the soul that sinneth it shall 
die. In the blood of the Lamb, my brethren, and not in 
the deceitful reasonings of a corrupt heart, learn the esti- 
mate to be put upon Sin. There, stripped of her blandish- 
ments, unmasked in her treachery, exposed in her seduc- 
tions, she stands revealed in the hideous deformity of her 
nature, odious to God and deadly to man. Her steps lead 
down to death, and her feet take hold on hell. 

You are soon, my friends, to enter upon the active duties 
of life. The responsibilities of manhood are gathering 
around you, and you will shortly go forth, no longer subject 
to the authority of tutors and guardians, but your own 
masters. 

Let me impress it upon you that the first, the indispensable 
element of success in your future career must be sought in 
the favour of God. If there is a Being who presides over 
the destinies of men and accomplishes His pleasure among 
the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of earth ; wliose 
favour is life and whose loving-kindness is better than life ; 
whose indignation none can withstand, the fierceness of 
Avhose anger none can abide ; who compasses us behind and 
before, and understands all our ways ; upon whom we are 
absolutely dependent for all that we have or are, — it is 
surely the consummation of folly to look for prosperity in 
His dominions without His favour. Can you expect endur- 
ing happiness when the curse of the Almighty hangs over 
you, when the awful leprosy of sin is wasting your soul, and 
the edict has gone forth dooming you to solitude and ban- 
ishment from God ? What prospect is before you when, at 
every step, you are surrounded by a power which you cannot 
resist, provoked to vengeance by your negligence and con- 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 259 

tempt ? No doubt, my brethren, your bosoms are bounding 
with hope, the future seems fall of promise, and you are eager 
to enter upon the scenes of manly life. But be assured that 
the first care which should demand your attention is the 
salvation of the soul. What you first need, most pressingly 
need, is to have your conscience purged from dead works 
by the blood of Him who, through the Eternal Spirit, oflFered 
Himself without spot unto God. 

It is no time to settle the subordinate concerns of this 
life when your souls are in jeopardy every hour — when the 
wrath of God is revealed from heaven against you, a burning 
hell is beneath you, and a terrible eternity before you. Be 
exhorted to seek first the kingdom of God and His right- 
eousness. Secure your immortal interests, and your mortal 
will not be disregarded. The great subject of solicitude 
with me is the salvation of your souls. I am fully assured 
that if you begin your career under the favour of God, His 
blessing will attend you at every step ; and though His way 
may often be in the whirlwind of adversity or the deep 
waters of affliction, He will eventually make all things work 
together for your good. I shall feel that you are committed 
to the guidance of a Friend who will never leave you nor 
forsake you, who knows your interests and is able to pro- 
vide for them. But my feelings will be very different in 
regard to those who know not God and obey not the Gospel 
of His Son. To such there is no safety. At home or abroad, 
awake or asleep, in sickness or in health, poverty or afflu- 
ence, the curse of God attends you ; from His hands there is 
no escape; and, earnestly as I could wish that all may be 
well with you, I must constantly feel that nothing is well, 
that nothing can be well, until you are sprinkled with the 
blood of atonement. I am afraid to trust you in the world, 
for the Prince of darkness has a fearful ascendency in it, 
and may make it the instrument of rendering you still more 
obdurate in sin. I shall dread to hear of your death, lest 
your dying hours should fill your friends with gloom, and 
be too sad an earnest of the awful destiny which follows ; 



260 THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 

and above all, my feelings are insupportable when I remem- 
ber that I must meet you at the bar of God and be a swift 
witness against you. 

Suffer, therefore, the word of exhortation while I embrace 
this last opportunity of urging it upon you with affection, 
earnestness and solemnity, to seek the Lord while He, may 
be found, to call upon Him while He is near. 

The point at which you have arrived is eminently critical. 
You are now forming your plans for life, and if religion is 
excluded, it is but too likely that you will never find the 
convenient season for attending to its claims. If, at this 
solemn period, when you so much need the blessing of the 
Almighty — this important juncture of your lives, which is 
to give shape and character to your subsequent pursuits — you 
rely upon your own wisdom and trust to your own under- 
standings, there is too much ground to fear that you may be 
left to yourselves and abandoned to your self-sufficiency and 
folly. Can there be a more favourable period than the 
present for attending to the interests of your souls ? You are 
young, and special promises are made to youth. You have 
reached a critical position. One step now may determine 
your destiny for ever. How important that you should act 
wisely and take that step in the fear of God ! The cares of 
life will soon leave little time for the claims of religion ; and 
if you find a strong reluctance to consider them now, that 
reluctance will increase with the growing power of a worldly 
spirit and the increasing dominion of inbred depravity. 
You are now free from those outward annoyances and petty 
vexations which the business of life always entails upon us, 
and which just as effectually close the heart against the calls 
of God as the heavier calamities of our lot. In every re- 
spect, then, your present situation is favourable ; more so, 
perhaps, than it will ever be again. Do you mean to let 
this golden opportunity pass unimproved? Do you mean 
that gray hairs shall find you veteran sinners against God ? 
Have you any excuse, any plausible pretext, which even 
your consciences will receive, for refusing at once to attend 



THE NECESSITY OF THE ATONEMENT. 261 

* 

to the one thing needful ? You cannot surely deny that if 
Christianity be anything, it must be everything — if true at 
all, it is, as Leslie expresses it, "tremendously true." All 
other matters dwindle into nothing in comparison with the 
interests of the soul. AVhat signify the applause of the 
world, the distinctions of society, the force of genius and the 
charm of letters, if after all your shortlived honours you are 
doomed at last to lie down in hell ? 

Finally, brethren, my ministry now closes with you ; the 
result of my labours and of your attention will not be known 
till the day of final accounts. Whatever may have been my 
imperfections — and I feel that they have been both numer- 
ous and great — I have always cherished, and shall always 
continue to cherish, the liveliest interest in your welfare. 
I have endeavoured to lead you to the fountain of life ; I 
have preached the Gospel with whatever ability God has 
given me ; and if any of you have been brought to serious 
reflection on the subject of salvation, it is a matter of devout 
thanksgiving to God. But it oppresses me to think that 
some of you, at least, will leave these walls as careless as 
you entered them. If now, at the eleventh hour, I could 
break your carnal slumber and rouse your attention to the 
things that belong to your peace, I would gladly employ 
any lawful expedient to do so. But no voice but the voice 
of God can reach you. I tremble to see you entering upon 
life unprepared for its close ; but I have faithfully warned 
you; I call heaven and earth to record against you this 
day ; and if you perish in your sins, your own consciences 
will tell you that life and death were before you. You have 
died wilfully. Would that I could utter with as much hope 
as affection the only word which remains to be pronounced 
— Farewell ! 



PREFATORY NOTE 



This discourse on the Priesthood of Christ was preached as a Com • 
mencement Sermon at the South Carolina College on the second day of 
December, 1849, the text being Hebrews v. 5, 6. It was published in 
part in the " Southern Presbyterian Review " for April, 1850. It may 
be considered the complement of the preceding treatise, where was dis- 
cussed the work of Christ as a legal substitute — the question of the 
Epistle to the Romans. Herein is discussed the priestly character of 
Christ — the question of the Epistle to the Hebrews. 

263 



THE PEIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 



THE mediation of Christ is represented in the Scrip- 
tures as consisting in the discharge of three principal 
offices — those of a Prophet, a Priest, and a King. That 
God should instruct and govern us through the agency and 
instrumentality of another is so perfectly in keeping with the 
whole analogy of nature that none who pretend to any reve- 
rence for the Scriptures, who even admit the historical reality 
of Jesus, are disposed to deny that He is, in some pre-eminent 
sense, the moral teacher and moral ruler of mankind. All 
who acknowledge any revelation acknowledge that through 
Jesus Christ, God has communicated discoveries of His will 
which are of the last importance to the improvement and 
happiness of the race. Too many, indeed, reduce His pro- 
phetic functions to the mere publication of truth, and 
His kingly office to the proclamation of the laws which 
men are required to obey, thus divesting Him, as a teacher, 
of the dispensation of the Spirit, and merging His royal 
prerogative into that of a messenger of the King. But 
though there has been a disposition to strip these offices of 
some of the peculiarities which distinguish them as exer- 
cised by Christ, and which give them indeed tlieir value 
and efficacy to us, yet no peculiar presumption has been felt 
to lie against the general fact that His mediation embraces 
the elements of instruction and rule. Widely diffisrent is 
the case in regard to His priesthood. This has ever been 
the stone of stumbling and the rock of offi^nce in the 
Christian scheme. Every artifice of learning and criticism 
has been tried to expunge from the Scriptures their plain 

265 



266 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

and obvious teachings upon the subject. The Word of 
God has been twisted, distorted and mutilated, the simplest 
rules of grammar set at defiance and the established usages 
of language disregarded and despised, in order to give some 
colour of plausibility to the shameless denial of the sacer- 
dotal mediation of the Saviour. What renders this con- 
duct the more remarkable is, that the New Testament gives 
a prominence to the priesthood which it nowhere concedes 
to the kingly or prophetic offices of Christ. It was the 
very end of His incarnation that He might be a merciful 
and faithful High Priest. There was obviously no neces- 
siiy for such a miracle as the assumption of human nature 
by His Divine Person if the only result to be achieved 
were the discovery of truths inaccessible to the efforts of 
reason, and the promulgation of law^s resting upon the 
authority of God. Prophets and apostles were abun- 
dantly competent to offices of this sort. They could 
teach, they did teach ; the New Testament itself, the very 
oracles of God, is the labour of their hands, directed by the 
Spirit of God. 

The incongruity is so palpable and monstrous betwixt the 
pomp of })reparation w^hich the common doctrine of the in- 
carnation involves, and the end to be accomplished betwixt 
the opulence of means and the poverty of result, that those 
w^ho deny the priesthood do not scruple to deny the Deity 
of the Son, and, with a painful consistency of error, reduce 
Him who is over all God blessed for ever to the level of 
our 2)oor, dependent humanity. The doctrines of a proper 
Sonship and a proper priesthood are in the Christian economy 
inseparably linked together, and it is a happy circumstance 
for the faith of the Church that the enemies of the cross can 
never hope to prevail without a double work of destruction. 
Their argument against the priesthood is felt to be incomplete 
until they have demolished the Deity, and their arguments 
against the Deity unsatisfactory until they have demolished 
the priesthood of Christ. They must show that He has 
never been addressed in the words, in their strict and proper 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 267 

acceptation, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee, 
before they can sliow that it has never been said to Him, 
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. 

But while the Scriptures insist with peculiar emphasis 
upon the mediation of Christ, and represent the func- 
tions which are discharged in it as essential to salvation, 
it is not sufficiently considered that these functions them- 
selves are not necessarily sacerdotal — that they might 
have been discharged by one who was not a priest in the 
common acceptation of the term. All that seems to be 
indispensable to salvation is the obedience of a substitute 
voluntarily assuming our guilt and able to endure the curse 
of the law. The imputation of an adequate righteousness 
upon the ground of fedqral relations is the principle into 
Avhich the Apostle resolves our justification in the Epistle 
to the Romans. The government of God demands that sin 
should be punished and that life should be the reward of 
perfect obedience ; and the salvation of a sinner turns upon 
the possibility of vicarious righteousness and vicarious pun- 
ishment. These are the doctrines which Paul enounces and 
vindicates in that great Epistle which has ever been the bul- 
wark of the evangelical scheme as contradistinguished from 
the dreams of formalists, Pharisees and mystics. He says 
nothing there specifically of priesthood. It is Christ a sub- 
stitute, Christ the federal representative of sinners, Christ 
obeying and Christ dying in the place of the guilty, — these 
are the topics of discussion, these are the doctrines which 
lie at the foundation of our hope, and make the Gospel 
emphatically tidings of great joy. But these doctrines do 
not necessarily include priesthood. We can manifestly con- 
ceive of a mediation by substitution which shall not at the 
same time be sacerdotal. The Son of God, for aught that 
appears, might have become incarnate, assumed our legal 
responsibilities and brought in an everlasting righteousness ; 
He might have been a sponsor, paying our debt and slain 
by the sword of Divine justice in our stead ; He migiit have 
fulfilled all the requisitions of the law or of natural religion, 



2fi8 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

and have pledged the faithfuhiess and truth of God to 
our redemption, and yet not have performed any of these 
duties in the character of a priest. It becomes, therefore, 
an extremely interesting question why the mediation of 
Christ has been made to assume the peculiar form of priest- 
hood. If atonement is all that can be proved to be essen- 
tial to pardon and acceptance, and vicarious obedience and 
vicarious punishment all that are essential to atonement — if 
substitution is the fundamental principle of redemption — 
why is it that the substitute has been ordained a priest, that 
His death is a sacrifice as well as a satisfaction to justice, and 
that with the blood of this offering He has passed into the 
holiest of all to make constant intercessions for His joeople ? 
If we could have been saved by a substitute who was not a 
priest; and redeemed by a death which was not a sacrifice, 
why have a priest and a sacrifice been the chosen means of 
accomplishing the work ? These are not questions of idle 
curiosity. They have been suggested to my own mind by 
an attentive study of the Epistles to the Romans and the 
Hebrews. The first, the Epistle to the Romans, discusses 
the principles of the Gospel in their general relations to the 
moral government of God, and demonstrates, as well as 
asserts upon authority, the absolute necessity of legal sub- 
stitution in order to life. But if the disclosures of revela- 
tion stojjped here, we might look upon the death of the 
Redeemer as the result simply of the operation of justice — a 
death inflicted by the law, exclusively penal in its nature 
and relations, exacted of Him in the same sense in which it 
would otherwise have been exacted of the sinner. We might 
regard pardon as resulting from faith in that death as a 
satisfaction to justice, and access to God as immediate and 
direct in consequence of this historical fact as a past reality. 
The principles here discussed would resolve the security of 
our state into the covenant faithfulness of God without the 
least insight into the manner in which it is actually made 
available to the saints. All that we could say would be 
that our debt has been paid, that justice no longer demands 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 269 

our lives, that God has promised in consequence of the 
Redeemer's death to receive us into favour, and upon the 
ground of that death we might approach Him ourselves 
and sue for mercy. This is all that could be certainly 
collected from the general discussion of this Epistle. But 
when we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews we find indeed 
a substitute, and the substitute demanded by the Epistle 
to the Eomans, but that substitute is embodied in a priest ; 
we find a death, a penal death, a death which is commensu- 
rate with the curse of the law, but it is a death which is also 
a sacrifice — at once the result of the operation of justice and 
of a free-will offering to God. We find justification and 
pardon resolved ultimately into the obedience and death of 
Christ as past historical facts, but immediately due to rela- 
tions sustained to Him as a living person and Redeemer ; 
and access to God ascribed, not so much to faith in His past 
achievements as to His present appearance for us in the 
holiest of all ; and the covenant faithfulness of God is seen 
to be maintained through the agency of Him who ever 
liveth to make intercessions for us. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews may be regarded as a detailed 
account of the method in which the great law of substitution 
has been actually applied in the redemption of our race. 
AYhile that to the Romans shows what must needs be done 
in order to our salvation, the Epistle' to the Hebrews shows 
how it has been done ; and where the arrangements have 
gone beyond the strict requisitions of necessity, they are 
demonstrated to be the dictates at once of mercy and wisdom. 
Priesthood is the perfection of mediation. There is not a 
single circumstance which distinguishes a priest from a 
general substitute which is not significant, a proof of good- 
ness, a fresh illustration of the adaptation of redemption to 
the condition of its objects ; not a single circumstance whicli 
distinguishes a sacrifice from the ordinary forms of death 
that does not enhance the preciousness of the Saviour's work. 
The full effect of this truth is lost upon most Christian minds 
through inattention to the distinctions in question. They 



270 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

admire the goodness and adore the wisdom of God in pro- 
viding a substitnte for the guilty, able to reconcile the con- 
flicting claims of justice and of grace ; but apart from the 
adaptation of His person to the mighty work they see nothing 
upon which they are accustomed to dwell as peculiarly in- 
dicative of the Divine goodness. They overlook the adap- 
tation of His office ; they forget that the manner in which 
He has accomplished the work is as glorious as the matter — 
the how as sublime as the what. The work as done, the 
person by whom, exhaust their topics of admiration and of 
praise, and they fail to enter into those other motives of 
faith, devotion and thanksgiving which are derived from 
the contemplation of the office in its essential and distin- 
guishing features. They use the terms Priest and High 
Priest, and have a habitual reference to the appearance of 
the Saviour in the presence of God ; but their High Priest 
is, after all, but little more than an all-sufficient sponsor, 
and His intercessions are regarded rather as acts of royalty 
than sacerdotal pleas. It is amazing how little and seldom 
we enter into those views of the death of the Redeemer 
which spring from the consideration of it as a real and proper 
sacrifice — how little we discriminate betwixt a legal repre- 
sentative and a consecrated Priest, betwixt Christ glorious 
in His kingdom and equally glorious in the holiest of all, 
betwixt even His triumphant ascension as a King and His 
passage as intercessor, not without blood, into the presence 
of God. As these distinctions are evidently important, and 
the benefits of that peculiar form of mediation to which the 
Saviour was appointed are clearly explained by the Apostle, 
it may be well to show how much we have gained and how 
pre-eminently God is glorified by this whole arrangement. 
Let us, then, contemplate Jesus, not simply as the Apostle, 
but the High Priest of our profession, and let us endeavour 
to collect from the Scriptures the excellency and glory of 
this species of mediation. 

1. It deserves, first, to be remarked that those conceptions 
of the origin of salvation which are suggested by substitu- 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 271 

tion in its nakedest form are rendered clearer and more im- 
pressive by the fact that the substitute is also a ^jriest. The 
appointment of any representative is an act of grace ; redemp- 
tion, no matter how achieved, is the offspring of mercy. The 
justice which connects punishment with guilt attaches the 
penalty to the person of the offender ; and though it is capa- 
ble of being satisfied by vicarious sufferings, it is the pre- 
rogative of the lawgiver to say whether he will accept a sub- 
stitute and transfer his vengeance from the original trans- 
gressor to an innocent but adequate sponsor. But this grace 
is more conspicuously displayed in the constitution of a 
priest than the designation of a simple surety. While, in 
either case, the whole proceeding is of grace, there are, in the 
consecration of a priest, a solemnity of purpose and an abso- 
lute sovereignty of will which arrest attention and compel 
the most thoughtless to acknowledge that it is the finger of 
God. In considering the claims of a surety, all that Avould 
seem to be important is his ability to pay the debt he 
assumes. But in tlie case of a priest this ability must con- 
cur with other qualifications, the anxiety to secure which is 
an additional proof of the mercy which pities the condition 
of the lost. It is always an act of sovereign condescension 
to admit a substitute ; but there is nothing inconceivable in 
the supposition that the proposition to redeem the guilty 
might proceed from himself and not from God — that he 
might volunteer his services, and so become the author of 
the scheme which dispenses salvation to men. But tlie 
honour of priesthood no man can take to himself but he that 
is called of God, as was Aaron. Hence the Apostle insists 
upon it that Christ glorified not Himself to be nuuk' an 
High Priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art my 
Son, to-day have I begotten Thee. A jH-iest is a solemn 
minister of religion — the channel through which all worsliip 
is conducted — the organ of all communications betwixt God 
and the people. This august agency none can assume with- 
out the authority of God. So awful and momentous is this 
office, which really collects the prayers and praises and 



272 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

thanksgivings of a world into a single person, which centres 
the hopes of mankind upon the conduct of a single individual 
throughout all ages, — so tremendous is this resjjonsibility and 
so sublime this honour, that it would be the climax of pre- 
sumption on the part of any one to propose that it should 
be conceded to him. It belongs to God, and to God alone, 
to designate a priest. The idea of a mediatorial worship 
conducted by a permanent and glorious minister, and so con- 
ducted as to strengthen the ties of personal obligation, is an 
idea which could only originate in the mind of the Deity ; 
and there were an evident fitness and propriety in the solem- 
nity and grandeur attached to the appointment of Jesus to 
this office when He was consecrated not without an oath. 
A scheme which contemplates an arrangement of this sort 
bears stamped upon it the strongest impress of grace. It 
sprang from the bosom of God ; it was mercy, which con- 
ceived the purpose of salvation ; mercy, which accepted the 
substitute ; and mercy upon mercy, the exuberance of grace, 
which made that substitute a priest. This last feature makes 
it little less than blasphemy to imagine that redemption could 
have any other source but the bosom of the Almighty. It 
is a Divine plan. 

The acceptance of any substitute, on the part of the Deity, 
contains an implied pledge that he was adequate to the task. 
We can scarcely conceive without horror that a Being of 
infinite benevolence should subject the innocent — however 
willing he might be to undergo the torture — to unspeakable 
suflFerings, when it was known beforehand that they would 
be incompetent to redeem the guilty. God, we may rest 
assured, would never take a surety who was unable to pay. 
But the guarantee, arising from the Divine character, that 
an accepted mediation shall be sufficient, is immensely 
strengthened when the substitute is considered as not only 
accepted but iwoposed by God, and set apart to his work 
with a solemnity of installation which would seem to throw 
the most awful imputation upon the Divine veracity if the 
sacrifice should fail to be adequate. Can we, for a moment, 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 273 

indulge the suspicion that Jesus shall not infallibly save 
every sinner who applies to Him, when He has been solemnly 
appointed to this office by the oath of God ? Was that oath 
an idle flourish, a mere mockery of our woe ? or was it not 
rather a proclamation to all the intelligent universe that the 
scheme of redemption should be as stable as the eternal 
throne — the priesthood of Jesus as incapable of disappointing 
our hopes as God of ceasing to be ? This designation of 
Jesus to the priesthood was the sole ground of security to 
the ancient saints. The great work was only in prospect — 
it stood in the counsel of God ; and as the Strength of Israel 
M^as not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that 
He should repent, the patriarchs and prophets looked with 
steadfast hearts to the great events which ai'c matters of 
history to us. " And these all, having obtained a good re- 
port through faith, received not the promise, God having 
provided some better thing for us, that they without us 
should not be made perfect." Such is the strong consolation 
which the oath of God is suited to impart to the heirs of His 
grace that if nothing more were known of the economy of 
redemption than that it depended upon a priesthood ap- 
pointed by Himself, and consecrated with the solemnity of 
this awful sanction, this would be sufficient to establish their 
hearts. They would feel that the scheme could not fail; 
that the glory of God was so deeply concerned in its success 
that heaven and earth might sooner pass away than a single 
sinner fall short of salvation who had fled for refuge to the 
hope set before him. Such impressiveness could not be im- 
parted to the acceptance of a substitute, or even the selection 
of a mere representative. The forms of inauguration, the aw- 
ful rites of consecration, the proofs of love and of confidence 
implied in the delegation of so imposing a trust, — these must 
all be wanting, and would strip the transaction of whatever 
attractions they are fitted to give it upon a sinner's regard. 
No form of mediation could beforehand so deeply ])lc(lge the 
Deitv to its success as that which turns upon an office to 
which God alone is competent to call. In making it His 
Vol. II.— 18 



274 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

prerogative to glorify him who shall be clothed with the 
priesthood, we make it absolutely certain that he who is so 
honoured shall glorify God in the wisdom of the choice. 

As, in every instance of substitution, the free and cordial 
acquiescence of the substitute is indispensable to the success 
of the arrangement, it is a favourable circumstance when the 
form of mediation can be made conspicuously to display it. 
His consent should not only be presumed, but known. It 
should be patent and manifest in the whole transaction. 
There would be an appearance of hardship, if not of injustice, 
in a proceeding which should doom the innocent to suifer in 
the place of the guilty without the concurrence of his own 
will. If arbitrarily done, it would be flagrant and intoler- 
able tyranny ; if done from high and solemn considerations 
of public policy, it w^ould impeach the wisdom of an admin- 
istration which had been so imperfectly digested as to de- 
mand an occasional departure from distributive justice, an 
occasional disregard of personal worth or delinquency, in 
order to answer its proper ends. If the scheme of redemp- 
tion, however, proposed Jesus to His people as only a legal 
substitute, though His consent might be easily collected from 
the circumstances of the case, yet it would not be conspicuous 
from the nature and progress of the work. Still less could 
it be seen that His consent was the spontaneous movement 
of His own heart, rather than a pious submission to the will 
of God, with whom the scheme must originate. But when 
He is announced as a priest all diiRculty vanishes. He must 
delight in the work ; the offering which He brings must be 
a free-will offering, or it could be no offering at all. If the 
victim laid upon the altar were not fully and cordially sur- 
rendered to God, the external act were hypocrisy and the 
whole service a mockery. Wherefore, when He cometh into 
the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou didst not 
desire ; mine ears hast thou opened : burnt-offering and sin- 
offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo I come : 
in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to 
do Thy will, O my God. 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 275 

Among the qualifications indispensable to a priest, next 
to his having somewhat to ofler, nothing is more earnestly- 
insisted on by the Apostle than a sympathizing nature. He 
must feel a real solicitude in the objects of his care. He 
must be one that can have compassion on the ignorant and 
on them that are out of the way. He is not to bring his 
sacrifice from a cold and repulsive sense of duty, nor from 
abstract regards to the dignity or glory of the deed ; but he 
must be governed by a real philanthropy — he must have 
love and \)\tj in his heart — he must weep for the transgressor 
while he makes atonement for the guilt. As he is to be a me- 
diator betwixt God and men, he must combine in his person 
the apparently incompatible elements of zeal for the Divine 
glory and affection for the souls of men. He must love the 
Lord his God, and maintain the integrity of His throne, 
while he commiserates the condition of the lost and would 
rescue them from their melancholy doom. He must have a 
brother's heart while he vindicates the decree of eternal 
justice. It is this zeal for God and man, this admirable 
blending of piety and philanthropy, which constitutes priest- 
hood necessarily and always a joyful work. This is a quali- 
fication M^hich the priest must have — it is of the essence of the 
office; and if at any period in the progressof his work he should 
fail to possess or evince it, his acts would cease to be sacerdotal ; 
they would become sacrilegious — the offering of strange fire 
upon the altar. This consideration puts it beyond the pos- 
sibility even of suspicion that the substitution of the Saviour 
was the result of " a momentary enthusiasm, a sudden im- 
pulse of heroic feeling, which prompted Him in the ardour 
of the moment to make a sacrifice of which, on cool delibera- 
tion, He repented." The very nature of the priesthood de- 
mands that the spirit of sublime devotion to God and heroic 
self-sacrifice for man, which first secured His consent to the 
enterprise, should animate Him at every step in His history, 
and sanctify every function of His office. He is not to be 
the passive recipient of ill. As a priest He must act — there 
are things to be done even in the endurance of the curse — 



276 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

and His whole heart must burn with piety and eonipas.<ioii 
while He bears the sins of the world in His own body on the 
tree. The lofty and godlike motives which induced the 
Redeemer, in the counsels of eternity, before the morning 
stars had yet sung together or the sons of God shouted for 
joy, to become the Lamb to be slain, must have continued 
to operate with undiminished intensity, or the prerogatives 
and glory of His office had been forfeited. The priestly 
spirit must have continued to dwell and to reign in His heart, 
or the priestly robes would have been taken from His 
shoulders. He nnist have been as free, as cordial, as de- 
lighted, when He uttered the cry of lamentation and woe 
upon the cross, which shook the earth and startled the dead, 
as when at the glorious suggestion of the scheme He uttered 
the language, Lo, I come. As the work of a priest, it is 
stamped upon the whole process of redemption that the sub- 
stitute gave His consent ; that His self-devotion was sponta- 
neous and free — the execution of a settled purpose to which 
He was impelled by no constraining influence of the Divine 
will, by no transitory fervours of enthusiasm, no martyr im- 
pulse of the moment ; that Pie delighted in the work — it was 
His meat and drink ; He felt it to be an honour and not a 
hardship, its successful achievement a crown of glory, and 
not a triumph over cruelty. This single consideration, that 
it displays so consj)icuously the freeness of the Saviour's 
mediation, is itself a sufficient vindication of the wisdom and 
fitness of a priesthood. It shows that our felicity has not 
been purchased at the expense of the rights of another ; and 
though there was an immense cost of suffering and of blood, 
it was never for a moment begrudged, never for a moment 
sustained with reluctance. We have no occasion for regrets 
that the blessings which we enjoy have been put into our 
hands by cruelty, injustice, or even harshness and severity 
to others. They are the free gifts of that sublimest of all 
spirits — the spirit of a priest. 

It is obvious from the preceding train of remark that all 
those views of the origin and success of the scheme of re- 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 277 

demption, which tJie general idea of substitution naturally 
suggests, are rendered more striking and impressive by the 
peculiarities of priesthood. If legal substitution involves a 
dispensatiou with the primary requisition of the law, attach- 
ing punishment always to the person of the offender, which 
proves that the substitute must be appointed by God — the 
necessity of this inference is immensely enhanced when that 
substitute sustains an office which absolutely demands a 
vocation from above. The proposition to suffer might origi- 
nate from a competent sponsor ; the proposition to be a priest 
(.i)uld not be made without blasphemy, and any scheme which 
compreheuds the functions of a real and proper priesthood 
can spring from no other source but the bosom of God. If 
the acceptance of a substitute carries a presumption that his 
proffered mediation must be successful, this presumption is 
magnified into certainty when the substitute is not only 
accepted but appointed by God, and invested with an office 
which requires a formal and solemn inauguration. The pre- 
sumption in the one case arises from the general principle 
that whatever means are appointed of God must be effica- 
cious ; but the certainty in the latter arises from the awful 
sanctity of the oath with which the Son was declared to be a 
priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. 

If the consent of the substitute must, in every instance, 
be presumed — the righteousness of the procedure depending 
upon his concurrence — it is obviously important that it 
should be open and palpable ; and this result is effectually 
attained by an arrangement which could not subsist a moment 
longer than the consent of the substitute is given. The 
priestly spirit, which is essential to tlie priestly office, exacts 
delio-ht in the work, and all sacerdotal functions would 
behove to be suspended should the priest fail in the spirit 
of his vocation. The joy of the Mediator in the work, there- 
fore, and the vindication of God from all suspicion of cruelty, 
injustice or severity, is complete and triumphant when the 
Saviour's death is made a sacrifice — a free-will offering to 
God. But though these considerations are not without tlieir 



278 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

value in illustrating the Divine wisdom and goodness, yet 
we are far from sup^Dosing that they constitute the peculiar 
advantages of sacerdotal mediation. The pre-eminent im- 
portance of the office is rather to be sought in the light 
which it throws upon redemption as a work achieved, and 
in the arrangements which it makes for the successful appli- 
cation of its blessings to the heirs of the promise. It is pre- 
cisely the scheme in which the provisions of the Gospel most 
conspicuously display the glory of God, and are best adapted 
to conciliate regard and to inspire confidence and hope. 
Grace is here seen to be a remedy without the disgust which 
remedies usually create ; it is rendered attractive to all who 
know their disease and appreciate their danger, and admin- 
isters strong consolation under circumstances in which no 
other arrangement could save from the encroachments of 
despair. 

2. When we contemplate the death of Christ as simply 
the death of a substitute, we see in it nothing more than a 
full satisfaction to the claims of justice. The sponsor pays 
the debt, and pays it cheerfully ; the legal representative 
endures the curse Avhich others had incurred, and falls 
beneath the sword which the guilt of others had drawn 
from its scabbard. It is a transaction of law and govern- 
ment, the infliction of a judicial sentence. Though it is 
implied that the substitute approves the equity of the law 
under which He suifers, and is prepared to vindicate the 
Divine conduct from the charge of unreasonable rigour, — 
though the justice of the whole transaction is assumed, yet 
when it is represented as simply the operation of justice, 
much of its moral grandeur and impressiveness is lost. 
We see in the substitute a victim to his own generosity, 
and considering Him exclusively in this light, there are 
probably few men Avho have not had occasion to fortify 
their minds against a momentary impression of unrelenting 
severity when regarding those awful attributes of God 
which make atonement the exclusive channel of mercy to 
the guilty. We must go beyond the event to its principle 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 279 

and causes before we can be at ease when we survey the 
sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth. He is felt to be a passive 
victim of Divine wrath, He bares His bosom to the stroke, 
He receives the storm which beats in violence and fury: He 
simply, in other words, stands and endures, while God, and 
God in His most terrible forms of manifestation, is the sole 
agent in the case. 

Widely different is the impression which is made when 
the transaction is contemplated in its true light. There 
is no room for the remotest suspicion of inexorable rigour 
when Jesus is seen to be a priest, His death a sacrifice, and 
the whole transaction an august and glorious act of worship. 
The position of Jesus is sublime when, standing before the 
altar, He confesses the guilt of His brethren, adores the 
justice which dooms them to woe, and almost exacts from 
God as the condition of His own love that justice should 
not slacken nor abate. That prayer of confession, that 
assumption of guilt, that clear acknowledgment of what 
truth and righteousness demand, make us feel that God 
must strike, that the edict must go forth. Awake, O sword, 
against my shepherd and the man that is my fellow, saith 
the Lord of Hosts. Still sublimer is His position when 
wdth profound adoration of the Divine character, by His 
own proper act. His own spontaneous movement. He lays 
His life upon the altar, virtually saying, Take it, it ought 
to be taken ; let the fire of justice consume it ; better, ten 
thousand times better, that this should be than that the 
throne of the Eternal should be tarnished by an effeminate 
pity ! We feel that death is not so much a penalty inflicted 
as an offering accepted. We feel that God is glorious, thai 
the law is glorious in the whole transaction, because Christ 
glorifies them. He lays down His life of Himself; it is 
His own choice to die rather than that man should perish 
or the Divine government be insulted with impunity ; and 
although in accepting the offering Justice inflicted upon 
Him the full penalty of the law, although the fire which 
consumed the victim was the curse in its whole extent, yet as 



280 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

it was an act of worship to provide it, and especially as 
that victim was Himself, every groan and pang, every excla- 
mation of agony, amazement and horror, was a homage to 
God which, in itself considered, the Priest felt it glorious 
to render. And if Jesus in all the extremity of His pas- 
sion proclaimed to the universe what from the nature of 
priesthood He must have ^jroclaimed, that the whole trans- 
action was a ground on which God was adored by Him, 
and ought to l)e adored by all, that His Father was never 
dearer, never more truly God in His sight, than when He 
accepted the sacrifice of Himself, the sublimity of the princi- 
ples involved, and the interest of Jesus in them, are a per- 
fect vindication from every illiberal suspicion. There is 
something, to our minds, inexpressibly sublime when we con- 
template the scheme of redemption as accomjilished by an 
act of worship — when we look upon Jesus not as a passive 
recipient of woes, the unresisting victim of law, but as a 
minister of religion, conducting its services in the presence 
of angels and men, upon an emergency which seemed to 
cover the earth with darkness. Our world becomes the 
outer court of the sanctuary, where a sacrifice is to be 
offered in which the Priest and the Victim are alike the 
wonder of the universe — in which the worship which is ren- 
dered leaves it doubtful whether the Deity is more glorious 
in His justice or His grace. In this aspect the satisfaction 
of Jesus is not merely the ground upon which others are at 
liberty to approach and adore the Divine perfections; it is 
itself a prayer uttered by the lips of one whose deeds were 
words — a hymn of praise chanted by Him whose songs were 
the inspiration of holiness and truth. Every proud imagi- 
nation is rebuked, every insinuation against the character 
of God is felt to be a shame to us, every disposition to 
cuvil or condemn is consigned to infamy, when we remem- 
ber that the whole work of Jesus Avas a solemn service of 
religion, as well that by which He descended into the grave 
as that by which He passed through the heavens into the 
holiest of all. He was a priest in His death, a priest in 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 281 

His resurrection, a priest in His ascension. He worshipped 
God in laying His life upon the altar, He worshipped Plira 
in taking- it again, and it was an act of worship by which 
He entered with His blood into the very presence of the 
Highest to intercede for the saints. It was religion in 
Jesus to die, to rise, to reign, as it is religion in us to believe 
in these great events of His history. 

Here, then, is an incalculable advantage of priesthood. 
While it makes the passion of the Redeemer a full and per- 
fect satisfaction of Divine justice, and so lays an adequate 
foundation of pardon, it vindicates the Divine glory in 
every step of the proceeding by making every step an act 
of adoration and praise. It makes the Saviour adore the 
Father in His death, makes that very death an offering of 
praise, redemption itself a mighty prayer, and throws the 
sanctities and solemnities of worship — and worship on the 
])art of one who knew what was the proper ground of wor- 
ship — around all the stages in the development of the econ- 
omy of grace. This seems to us to be the very climax of 
wisdom. It was glorious to have provided a substitute who 
should be able to bear our sins in His own body upon the 
tree, to have devised a scheme by which the conflicting 
claims of mercy and justice should be adjusted and harmo- 
nized — by which God could be just and at the same time the 
justifier of those who believe in Jesus ; but it was the very 
perfection of wisdom to have executed this scheme so that 
the intensest sufferings should have produced only a deeper 
impression of tlie Divine glory and of the excellence and 
value of the Divine law. Surely in this arrangement the 
law is magnified and made honourable. 

3. Another circumstance which illustrates the import- 
ance of sacerdotal mediation is the provision which it 
makes for the application of redemption to the heirs of the 
promise. The discussion has often been agitated, "Which 
precedes, faith or regeneration ? On the one hand it lias 
been maintained, and successfully maintained, that faith is 
a holy exercise, and necessarily supposes a change of heart ; 



282 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

and on the other, with equal truth, that a spiritual nature 
is the work of the Holy Ghost, and that He is vouchsafed 
in His saving operations only to those who are entitled to 
the favour of God. They must be in Christ in order to be 
recipients of saving grace ; they must have received that 
grace in order to be in Christ. There are but two hypothe- 
ses by which this difficulty can be met upon the scheme of 
simple substitution, and both of them are liable to insuper- 
able objections. The one is the Antinomian theory of eter- 
nal justification, which, "as it makes acceptance with God 
compatible with a state of sin, is destructive of the interests 
of holiness ; the other is the theory of a change in the Divine 
mind in relation to a sinner at a particular period of his 
history, which change occurs without any particular reason 
why it should be effected then rather than at any other 
time. It is supposed that the covenant of redemption 
included a promise to the Mediator that, at a given time in 
the history of each, the heirs of the promise should be 
renewed by the Spirit and enabled to believe on the Saviour. 
The actual communication of the Spirit is solely in virtue 
of that promise. Now, if the sinner were not justified in 
the justification of Christ, if before the critical period 
arrives he is the object of Divine reprobation, what is to 
make him less so after it has come ? If there was that in 
his character and relations to God which made it inconsist- 
ent with the Divine perfections to impart to him tokens of 
favour, the original promise has neither changed that cha- 
racter nor those relations, and has consequently not removed 
the inconsistency. The change towards him in the Divine 
mind is purely arbitrary. If it should be said that the 
work of Christ has laid the foundations of that change, the 
reply is obvious that, at the given time, the sinner's rela- 
tions to that work are no nearer than they were before; 
and if that work be the cause of it, the change must have 
occurred when Christ Himself was justified. These diffi- 
culties seem to be insuperable upon the hypothesis of sim- 
ple substitution. We must fall back upon Antinomian 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 283 

principles, or confess that the conversion of a sinner is 
utterly inexplicable. 

But when we take in the idea of priesthood the whole 
difficulty vanishes. There is no need for asserting what the 
Scrij)tures everywhere deny — an eternal justification, or an 
actual justification in the resurrection of Christ, or an arbi- 
trary change in the feelings and sentiments of the change- 
less God. The Spirit in His first operations is imparted, 
not as a token of God's favour to the sinner, but as a token 
of His regard to the great High- Priest who pleads before 
the throne. It is not that the sinner is accepted, but that 
Jesus is accepted. God looks only on the great Intercessor, 
and gives Him power to give eternal life to all whose names 
are on His breast-plate ; and when, in answer to these Divine 
intercessions, the Spirit is given to Christ, that Christ may 
give Him to us — when, in consequence of that gift. He 
descends not from the Father but from Christ to us, and 
unites us to Jesus — then, God looks upon us in tlie Redeemer 
and justifies us in consequence of that union. Here there 
is perfect harmony in the whole plan. 

4. Another immense advantage of a priesthood is that it 
quickens and stimulates the devotion of the Church by the 
assurance it inspires that all true worship, however imper- 
fect or inadequate, shall infallibly be accepted and rewarded. 
Upon the scheme of simple substitution, the approaches of 
a sinner to God would be immediate and j)ersonal; he 
M^ould go in his own name, depending for acceptance upon 
a work which had already been performed ; he would plead 
the promises Avhich were suspended upon it, and cast him- 
self upon the unfailing faithfulness of God. We are far 
from saying that this would not be a sufficient grountl of 
confidence and hope ; but no man tluit knows the deceitful- 
ness of his heart, the depths of ini(|uity within him — no 
man who feels his own vileness and pollution, and appre- 
ciates at the same time the transcendent holiness of God — 
could venture without fear and trembling, however sup- 
ported by a covenant which guarantees his acceptance, to 



284 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

come into the presence of Him in whose sight the heavens 
are not clean and who charges the angels with folly. To 
talk of confidence and boldness, under such circumstances, 
would be sheer madness. However we might be author- 
ized to feel it, Ave could not feel it. The awful holiness of 
God must be like a consuming fire ; an oppressive sense of 
unworthiness and of immeasurable distance and separation 
from the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity must 
arrest the prayer as it rises in the heart, and check the con- 
fidence which atonement as a past historical fact is suited to 
inspire. We should say with the Israelites that we cannot 
speak with God. There must be a Mediator of prayer and 
praise, of all the exercises of religious worship, as well as a 
Mediator to jDurchase our pardon. This is accomplished by 
a priesthood. There is no direct and immediate approach to 
God. We come before Him only in the name of our Priest, 
who attracts us by community of nature, and who presents 
all our worship for us before the eternal throne. Our 
prayers are not heard and received as ours, but as the 
prayers of Jesus ; our praises are not accepted as ours, but 
as the praises of Jesus. The imperfection wdiich attaches 
to our performances, our pollution and weakness and unbe- 
lief, stop with the High Priest ; His intercession and atone- 
ment cover all defects, and we are faultless and complete in 
Him. The prayer which reaches the ear of the Almighty 
is from Him, and not from us, and must be as prevalent as 
His worth. Here is our confidence, not only that Jesus 
died, but that Jesus lives — that He is our intercessor in the 
heavenly sanctuary, and there presents, enforces and sancti- 
fies the religious worship of earth ; here is our confidence 
that in the whole process of salvation God regards the 
Redeemer and not us, and deals out blessings according to 
His estimate of Christ ; here is our confidence that if any 
man sin we have an Advo(.'ate with the Father, Jesus Christ 
the righteous. What an encouragement to prayer and 
praise ! And what thanks shall we render unto God for 
adapting the marvellous scheme of His grace with such 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 285 

consummate wisdom to the wants and weaknesses of men ! 
" Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest that is 
passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold 
fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which 
cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but 
was in all points tempted like as Ave are, yet without sin. 
Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that 
we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of 
need." " Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into 
the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way 
wdiicli He hath consecrated for us, through the veil — that is 
to say, His flesh — and having an High Priest over the house 
of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assur- 
ance of faith." This approach to God through the media- 
tion of a priest is one of tlie highest privileges of the Gos- 
pel, and meets so completely a prime necessity of nature 
that where it is imperfectly understood we are disposed to 
make arrangements of our own which shall answer the 
same end. All corrupt religions have an order of priest>>^. 
They could maintain no hold upon the people, they could 
not enlist the sympathies of the heart, Avithout some pro- 
vision of the sort. It is the glory of the Gospel that it has 
a Priest who can save to the uttermost all that come unto 
God through Him — who can sanctify the meanest worship- 
per and consecrate the humblest offering. None need be 
afraid or ashamed ; it is not they, but He who is accepted in 
the house of God. It was an ancient reproach of Christian- 
ity, both among Jews and Gentiles, that it was a mere spirit- 
ual and personal worship, without the intervention of altar, 
temple or sacrifice. It had indeed no imposing ritual, no 
pomp of ceremony, no gorgeous solemnities — all was simple 
and unpretending; its institutions were addressed to intelli- 
gence and not to taste, to the heart instead of the fiincy. 
Still, there was a temple in the Christian scheme, more 
auiTust and glorious than anv which could be reared by 
hands ; it had an Altar, a Priest, a Victim and a Sacrifice, 
which should for ever abolish through their transcendent 



286 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

efficacy all other altars, all other priests, all other vic- 
tims, however costly or imposing; it possessed in perfec- 
tion all those advantages of sacerdotal mediation which 
Judaism and Paganism faintly adumbrated, and instead, 
like them, of making its priesthood subservient only to 
a vicarious religion, it secured the real worship of the 
heart. 

5. It deserves, finally, to be added that a mediation of 
priesthood is the form in which consolation is most effect- 
ually administered to the children of men. It is necessary 
to any substitute that he should be a kinsman of our race, 
bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. But besides the 
possession of our nature free from the stain and impurities 
of sin, nothing more is required for the purposes of vica- 
rious righteousness and penal expiation than the consent of 
the substitute to undertake the task. If he can die the 
death to which we are doomed, and is willing to suffer in 
our stead, he is a competent redeemer. But though this 
is all which is absolutely essential to a legal substitution, it 
is not all which the state and condition of men evince to 
be desirable. We want a redeemer with a brother's heart 
as well as a brother's nature. Though not indispensable to 
our safety, it is indispensable to our comfort, that our substi- 
tute should be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, 
that he should be able to bear our sorrows and carry our 
griefs. Now this exquisite sympathy, which is one of the 
most poM^erful incentives to faith and love, is essential to a 
priest. Every high priest ordained for men must not only 
be a participant of their nature, but must have compassion 
on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way. He 
must enter with sympathetic tenderness into all their temp- 
tations and calamities, their fears and apprehensions, their 
cares and sorrows. He must be prepared to pity and 
encourage the weak, to comfort the weeper in the house 
of mourning, to wipe the widow's tears, to hear the orphan's 
cries, to lie down with the beggar upon his pallet of straw, 
and to watch with those to whom wearisome nights are 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 287 

appointed. He must be a friend in all those emergencies 
in wliich friendship is our richest boon. 

This qualification is found pre-eminently in Jesus. 
Holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, He 
possesses that absolute purity of nature in which the sensi- 
bilities have lost none of their delicacy from the petrifying 
influence of sin. Trained, too, by a protracted discipline in 
the school of affliction. He knows the temptations of our 
race — He knows what it is to weep, He knows the burden 
of a heavy heart. It was, perhaps, one design of the varied 
scenes of trial through which He passed to give Him that 
experience of our state which should call into the liveliest 
exercise the exquisite sympathy of His soul. In generous 
natures common troubles and afflictions have a tendency to 
knit them together ; it is only where the heart has been 
seared by sin and immersed in selfishness that it can look 
with indifference upon struggles of others similar to those 
through w^hlch it has passed. The Apostle assures us that 
Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, that He might be 
a merciful and faithful High Priest. And those who have 
felt His presence in their trials can appreciate the priceless 
value of His sympathy. He has gone before us through 
every path of sorrow, and we cannot utter a groan nor heave 
a sigh which does not go to His heart. His pity for the 
guilty is as tender as His sympathy with the saints. No 
language can express the intensity of His compassion for 
those who in ignorance and folly disregard the day of their 
merciful visitation, and are heaping up AATath against the 
day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of 
God. He has no pleasure in their death : " O Jerusalem, 
Jerusalem ! thou that killcst the proi)hets and stonest them 
that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered 
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens 
under her wings, and ye would not !" " Daughters of Jeru- 
salem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for 
your children." The sublimest example of compassion 
which the world has ever beheld was furnished by the 



288 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CIIUIST. 

Saviour in that memorable prayer, in which — when "the 
clouds of wrath from heaven and from earth, pregnant with 
materials which nothing but a Divine hand could have col- 
lected, were about to discharge themselves on Him in a 
deluge of agony and blood," when insulted by men, aban- 
doned by His friends, mocked by His enemies, jeered by 
devils and deserted by God, He was about to expire in soli- 
tude and darkness — He could still, for a moment in the 
plenitude of His pity forgetting these uns])eakable calamities, 
sue for the forgiveness of the remorseless agents of His 
death. This was compassion like a God. And what an 
exquisite spectacle of tenderness was that when Jesus, on 
the cross, just before the consummation of the last event that 
should fulfil the predictions of ancient prophecy, consigned 
His mother to the care of the beloved disciple ! Surely such 
an High Priest became us. In our waywardness and folly, 
in our sins and temptations, in our murmurs and impatience, 
we should alienate any other friend but Him, that sticketh 
closer than a brother. 

I have now said enough to show the transcendent value 
of a priesthood, and I trust that I have opened to your 
minds a field of thought which shall not be wholly unfruit- 
ful. Upon occasions of this sort, when there are so many 
circumstances to impress with solemnity whatever truths 
may be uttered, and when there is every likelihood that the 
words spoken may be remembered in after years, I have 
always been accustomed to insist upon some vital doctrine 
of the Gospel. It is my earnest desire and prayer that those 
who hear me may be saved. The solicitude which I always 
feel for the young men of my charge is collected to its great- 
est intensity when they are about to be dismissed from my 
pastoral instruction and care. If it could avail, I could 
weep tears of blood over those who have never been per- 
suaded to become reconciled to God. I see them going out 
into a world which is full of dangers : temptations beset 
them on every side ; they have a wily adversary who is 
plotting for their destruction, a deceitful heart which is 



THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 281) 

readily caught with his guile, and in the midst of gins and 
traps and snares they are confident of perfect security. A 
spell is upon them, which, if it be not broken, must undo 
them. Under these circumstances, when I reflect that they 
are probably hearing my voice for the last time, I am con- 
etrained to cry aloud in one final, desperate effort to dispel 
the enchantment which, if not dispelled, must seal them up 
in death. My young friends, I earnestly beseech you to 
give heed, if you have forgotten all others, to the instruction 
of this day. Carry with you the lessons it has taught, and 
before you have yet become immersed in the world reflect 
upon the obvious inferences which flow from the subject that 
has just been discussed : 

1. Is it so that Jesus is a Priest appointed with the 
solemnity of an oath? Then have all sinned and come 
short of the glory of God. There is no need of a mediator 
to the righteous and unfallen. It is only when guilt has 
separated betwixt God and men that a daysman is required 
betwixt them, who can lay his hand upon them both. The 
incarnation, temptations, trials, sufferings and passion of our 
Lord are all to be regarded as an awful and solemn procla- 
mation of human guilt. 

2. Is Jesus a Priest ? Then sin cannot be pardoned with- 
out satisfaction and atonement. Is it so that the sacrifice of 
Christ is an act of worship — that those unspeakable sufferings 
with which He expiated the curse of the Law M'crc parts of 
a sublime doxology which, as the minister of religion. He 
chanted to the King Eternal ? Then how clear it is that God 
is glorious in the punishment of the guilty, and that none 
can hope to escape ! 

3. Is Jesus a Priest — now a Priest in the holiest of all ? 
Then with what confidence and boldness, notwithstanding 
our guilt and pollution, may we come to the throne of grace ! 
Why should we perish Mhen the mercy-seat is before us, 
and a reconciled God accessible to all ? And can we imagine 
that if with such advantages, Avith such a redundancy of 
grace as God has provided for us, we are finally lost, we 

Vol. II.— 19 



290 THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. 

shall perish with any common overthrow ? Abused mercy 
will kindle the fires of justice. These solemn truths, which 
have often been urged upon you before, I would now impress 
again with all the earnestness of which I am capable. These 
things are your life. Young, buoyant, you may not feel the 
importance of religion now. But the scene will change. The 
days of darkness must come. Calamities may overtake you 
in which you will need the support of a friend with a stronger 
arm than any that can be found among the sons of men. 
The hour of death must come, and after death the judgment. 
The world now smiles before you, its prospects enchant, its 
honours charm you. But the fashion of this world passeth 
away. Religion is the principal thing. Let it then be your 
first care to have Christ as your patron and friend. There 
is none other name under heaven given among men whereby 
you can be saved. The alternative is faith in this Divine 
Redeemer, or Eternal Death. Can you hesitate which to 
adopt ? Can you endure the thought of eternal banishment 
from God ? Who can dwell with devouring fire ? who can 
abide in everlasting burning ? Make Jesus your friend — 
confide in Him as your Saviour, and you conquer the world, 
trample over death and take hold on eternal life. 

This is now my prayer for you, and shall ever be my 
prayer for you, that you may know Jesus in the sweetness 
of His grace and the power of His resurrection. Then, 
though separated here and scattered to distant fields, we 
shall be united again where parting shall be no more. If I 
could be sure that you would all meet me at God's right 
hand, I could now bid you farewell without a tear and with 
a cordial God-speed to your various pursuits in life. But 
the thought is agony that any here may perish, and my 
heart sinks within me as I am comj^elled to send into the 
world so many that I love, so many that Jesus as a man 
would love, who yet love not Him, and care little for His 
sacrifice or prayers. May God give you all the spirit of 
grace and wisdom in the knowledge of Him ! Farewell. 



PEEFATOKY NOTE. 



What follows on the subject of our Lord's temptation was the substance 
of a discourse delivered May 21, 1854, in the chapel of the South Carolina 
College, and on the following Sunday in Glebe Street Church, Charleston. 
It was based upon the records of the transaction in the three Gospels. 
One who heard it has testified to its marvellous power and force as de- 
livered, but it has never before appeared in print. 

291 



CHRIST TEMPTED AS THE SECOND ADAM. 



fTlHAT the temptation in the wilderness is a most important 
-*- portion of our Saviour's history may be fairly presumed 
from the prominence given to it in the evangelic record. It 
is minutely detailed by Matthew and Luke, and noticed in 
general terms in the compendious Gospel of Mark. No 
part of the New Testament has been more perplexing to the 
pride of human reason. To say nothing of those avIio have 
turned the whole account into ridicule and made it a pretext 
for rejecting the authenticity of the narrative, many have 
adopted explanations which, though originating in the pro- 
fessed purpose of obviating difficulties, have terminated in 
others greater than those that were attempted to be removed. 
Among that class of writers tinged with Rationalism the im- 
pression is universal that the facts are not to be literally 
taken as they stand in the record. It is assumed that such 
a personal conflict of Christ and Satan, under the precise 
circumstances detailed by the Evangelists, is altogether 
incredible. Especially the transportation to the temple 
and to the mountain, the momentary exhibition of all the 
kingdoms of the world and their glory, the shocking pro- 
posal to worship the Devil, — these are said to be so intrin- 
sically improbable as facts that, to save the credit of the 
Evangelists, we must regard them as the drapery in which 
they have chosen to invest a spiritual conflict in the soul of 
Jesus. They were suggestions made to His imagination — 
visions of His own mind. Some have gone so far as to 
make them the products of His own thoughts. 

293 



294 CHRIST TEMPTED 

In order to add to the incredibility of the narrative, cir- 
cumstances have been forced into it which do not properly 
belong to it, such as that Satan transported Jesus through 
the air, so as to put Him at one time on the pinnacle of the 
temple, and at another on the summit of a mountain. 
There is not a word of this in the Gospels. Their language 
implies no more than that Christ went to these places and 
that Satan accompanied Him; and the inference is that as 
He was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, so it was 
under a DivinS impulse that He submitted to the continu- 
ance of the temptation in these places. There is no more 
intimation of a miraculous conduct to the temple or the 
mountain than to the first scene of the conflict — least of all 
is it intimated that a real miracle was wrought by the 
Devil. 

But the ground upon which the narrative is set aside, 
supposing the facts to be as just represented, is altogether 
fallacious. It is assumed that intrinsic probability is the 
measure of the credibility of testimony — that we believe a 
witness, not for himself, but on account of the nature of his 
testimony. On the contrary, testimony is a positive source 
of knowledge, to be credited on its own account, and to be 
judged of by its own laws. There is but a single case in 
which it can be set aside by intrinsic improbability, and that is 
when the fact alleged is of such a nature that it could not be 
cognized by any intelligence — in other words, when it involves 
a contradiction, a contradiction to itself or to some known 
truth. It then becomes an absolute impossibility; and as 
testimony, and indeed all evidence, is only within the limits 
of the possible, there can be no real testimony in any such 
cases. What pretends to be so must be sheer lying or gross 
delusion. But as there is nothing in this narrative contra- 
dictory to itself or to any known truth, there is nothing 
which puts it beyond the range of testimony. The facts are 
possible, and therefore can be rendered credible. 

Is it objected that they are unlike our ordinary experi- 
ence ? In the first place, it may be answered, that analogy 



AS THE SECOND ADAM. 295 

itself is the creature of testimony, and in the second, that 
diversity of existences is as much characteristic of nature as 
uniformity of law. The same laws indeed may pervade, the 
same great principles be involved in a multitude of facts 
which have not a single phenomenal point of resemblance. 
Look at the variety of beings among animals, unlike in 
everything but the laws of organic life. Look at the varie- 
ties of inorganic matter, unlike in everything but the greal 
laws of attraction or repulsion. Just so the facts before us 
may be new — wholly diverse as phenomena from anything 
that we have ever witnessed — and yet they may turn upon 
moral principles as broad as the universe. It is not reason, 
therefore, but arrogance, that sets them aside in their literal 
significancy. 

Taking them, then, precisely as they are recorded, let us 
endeavour to study their import : 

1. Christ is here to be considered in His public character 
as the representative of men and of unfallen angels. His 
mission upon earth was to redeem the seed of Abraham and 
confirm the angels that had kept their first estate. His 
work was much more extensive than that of Adam. The 
benefits of Adam's obedience we have no reason to believe 
would have transcended his own race; those of Christ's 
were to extend to principalities and powers, to angels and 
archangels, cherubim and seraphim. The great problem 
was to be solved whether, on the principle of probationary 
government, an end could be put to sin. 

2. The trial must be more severe and protracted than that 
to which Adam was subjected, for two reasons: (1.) The 
magnitude of the benefits to accrue from its success ; and (2.) 
As a vindication of the principle on which man had fallen. 
It must be shown that, in still more unfavourable circum- 
stances than those in which Adam was placed, human nature 
is capable of maintaining its integrity. 3. In this aspect, 
as a vindication of the Covenant of Works, it behoved to 
be public, and to be conducted upon the same principles 
with the trial in the garden of Eden. It was public, it 



296 CHRIST TEMPTED 

was notorious to angels, notorious to devils, and has been 
made notorious to men. It did turn upon the same princi- 
ples with the Adamic trial, whieh was essentially the test of 
obedience through impulses intrinsically lawful. 

From these considerations it must have been a real trial, 
a severe trial, and one in which success was glorious. The 
destinies of the universe actually turned upon it. The bit- 
terness and intensity of it may be seen from comparing it 
with the trial of Adam : 

1. The place. Adam's was in the garden of Eden — this 
in the wilderness. Adam's, with a companion to relieve his 
solitude — Christ alone. Adam's, with the Ijeasts tamed and 
in harmonious subjection to his authority — Christ among the 
beasts, wild and savage. Adam's, in the midst of plenty and 
abundance — Christ struggling with hunger. How differently 
were the two placed ! How favourable the circumstances in 
one case ! how unfavourable in the other ! 

2. The extent of the trial — that is, the points at which 
both might be assailed. The test to Adam was condensed 
Into a simple precept involving comparatively no self-denial. 
He could not fall as long as he abstained from the one tree 
of the garden. Christ was open to assaults upon all points. 
Every appetite, every impulse, every active principle of 
human nature might be plied with arguments, and success at 
any point would have been ruinous. There Avas but one sin 
against which Adam in the first instance was not absolutely 
guarded. Christ must rely upon His integrity to preserve 
Him from all. Behold, therefore, the severity of the con- 
flict by which men have been redeemed and angels confirmed! 

3. The thing to be tested in both trials was allegiance to 
God, and the mode of attack is adapted to the different cir- 
cumstances of the parties. Adam was only a man, and the 
insinuation to him was that he was a god in capacity, and 
had only to put the thing to the proof Christ was the Son 
of God, and the insinuation to Him was tliat He was only a 
man, and He was challenged to put to the proof His claims 
to being considered as anything more. 



AS THE SECOND ADAM. 297 

This, then, is the light in which tlie whole case is to be 
regarded — as the second probation of the world. Christ is 
the second Adam — the head of a family consisting alike of 
angels and of men. His success proves — 

1. That the race had not been hardly dealt with in Adam 
— that they might have stood, that they might easily have 
stood. The argument is from the greater to the less. 

2. It illustrates the sublimity of Christ's virtue. Here 
was a human being wlio actually did pass through the world 
from the cradle to the grave without sin. If He had been 
placed in only ordinary circumstances, this is a truly aston- 
ishing phenomenon. The most humble and retired man is 
seduced on all hands in a world like this, where sin has 
reigned for thousands of years. But the case of Jesus is 
remarkable in that He was exposed to special and extra- 
ordinary trials. He Avas providentially dealt Avith as if He 
had been a sinner. The world and the Devil were let loose 
upon Him with aggravated intensity. The severity of the 
conflict was condensed into two periods — one at the com- 
mencement and the other at the close of His career — and yet 
He held fast His integrity. This is godlike virtue. Well 
did Paul say, If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him 
be Anathema Maranatha! 

3. Individual life is an analogue of the dispensation which 
rules the history of the race. There are crises in the history 
of each of us — points at which a determinate direction is 
given to the character, whether intellectual or moral. The 
will stands face to face with some great question of duty ; 
we debate it; we meditate; there is an earnest and bitter 
conflict — an agony; the issue gives a tremendous impulse 
one way or the other ! This is pre-eminently the case with 
religion. The laAV stands face to face with us ; the Spirit 
stimulates conscience; we struggle; we resist; we evade; 
matters are finally brought to a crisis — we must decide, and 
often that decision is final ! Oh, the importance of having 
every decision right ! Every act propagates itself, but an 
act after a conflict multiplies by scores — its like spring up 



298 CHRIST TEMPTED. 

then like drao-on's teeth. Satan knew that hereafter, in all 
ordinary circumstances, Christ was invulnerable. The first 
great crisis was past, and he never returned to Him until 
he was placed in a condition to constitute another crisis, 
when he was called to confront the Cross and Hell. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



The discourse which follows was preached as a sermon by its author at 
least four times — first, in the church at Columbia, August 30, 1 840 ; then 
in the chapel of the college, March 21, 1841 ; next, at the opening of the 
Synod of South Carolina in Columbia, October 14, 1847 ; and again in 
the chapel, October 31, 1852. The preacher took his text from 1 Corinth- 
ians i. 22-24. It now appears in type for the first time. 

299 



THE GOSPEL, GOD'S POWER AND WISDOM. 



THE Apostle Paul gives to us, in the first chapter of his 
first Epistle to the Church of Corinth, a graphic picture 
of a common spirit of infidelity as it was differently modified 
by peculiar circumstances in the history ayd character of the 
Jews and Greeks. The former, having been early selected 
as the peculiar people of God, had been signally indulged 
with miraculous exhibitions of His power in delivering them 
from the hands of their enemies and in confirming the mes- 
sages of their prophets. They had been so long trained to 
signs and wonders and mighty works, as the pledges of a 
Divine commission, that they could hardly be expected to 
listen to the voice of any teacher who could not produce these 
credentials from heaven. And yet, by a singular infatuation 
of mind and heart, they gave a cordial reception to the tra- 
ditions of the elders, which were sealed by no impress of 
Divine power, and cheerfully received those who came in 
their own name, whose wonders were only lying delusions ; 
while they rejected Jesus, a man approved of God among 
them by miracles so stupendous as to challenge the reluctant 
confession that it was never so seen in Israel. They were 
sealed up in invincible prejudice against all the proofs of a 
Divine commission which the Saviour presented in fulfilling 
the predictions of ancient prophets, in healing the sick, in 
raising the dead and controlling the elements by a single 
word. It seems that his countrymen had somcliow or other 
conceived the preposterous notion that their long-expected 
Messiah was to come in the character and with all the pomp 

301 



302 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

and pageantry of an earthly prince ; that His advent was to 
be heralded by some portentous sign in the heavens, which 
would prove a signal token of Divine blessing to themselves 
and of fearful vengeance on their enemies ; that He would 
at once restore the kingdom to Israel by taking possession 
of the ancient throne of David and bringing their haughty 
and imperial masters under tribute to Himself; and hence 
we find that the most astonishing miracles of Christ could 
never divert their attention from an anxious seeking of the 
Sign from heaven. Having defined for themselves the sort 
of evidence with which they expected their Messiah to attest 
His authority, they obstinately perverted or closed their eyes 
against every other proof, determined not to believe until 
the Sign from heaven should be revealed; and because the 
Saviour repeatedly declared that no sign should be given 
but the sign of Jonas the prophet, they were offended at 
Him — they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. 

The disgust which His first appearance among them in 
humility and poverty had produced was firmly and immov- 
ably settled by the ignominious circumstances of His death. 
They could never dream of owning Him as their Lord who 
had been nailed to a cross ; and all the arguments which 
inspired apostles could produce from their own Scriptures, 
or the acknowledged miracles of Jesus, they considered as 
amply refuted by the simple circumstance that hanging on 
a tree was an unquestionable token of the Divine maledic- 
tion. That Jesus died under a curse was a plain proof to 
their minds that He could not be the anointed of God — the 
favourite of heaven and the Saviour of His people Israel. 
In the life and death of the Redeemer they found anything 
but that Sign from heaven by which He should be proclaimed 
as the Son of David, and introduced among his countrymen 
with the dignity and grandeur which befitted the station of 
a great monarch. Such were the grounds of Jewish infi- 
delity. 

The Greeks, on the other hand, sought after wisdom. 
Naturally curious and speculative, they were assiduously 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 303 

engaged in philosophical disquisitions about the First good, 
First perfect and First fair. Divided ofi' into different sects 
each headed by some illustrious master, they spent their time 
in discussions which, however they sharpened their wits, left 
their hearts barren of improvement, and eventually brought 
on a general skepticism in regard to all truth. There were 
the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Sophists and Khetoricians, 
all representatives of different principles and different inter- 
ests, whose very existence depended upon their contests with 
one another, and whose highest glory consisted in technical 
niceties and subtle disputation, which they vainly enough 
denominated wisdom. The forms of philosophy were pre- 
served among the Greeks long after its spirit had fled. In 
the days of Paul a spirit of candid inquiry after truth, which 
to some extent was possessed by Plato, Socrates and Aris- 
totle, had given Avay to the war of dialectics and the strife 
of sects : the highest boast of intellect was to involve the 
plainest truths in doubt, and to frame syllogisms against what 
all the world had believed without the aid of argument. 
The natural curiosity of the Greek prompted him to pry into 
everything, and his natural pride to dispute everything 
rather than acknowledge his own ignorance. It is a just 
picture of Greek society generally which Luke gives us of 
that at Athens : " For all the Athenians and strangers which 
were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell 
or to hear some new thing ;" they always had some new 
question to discuss, some old argument to refute, or some 
new doubt to defend; they were ever learning, and never 
able nor even desirous to arrive at the knowledge of the 
truth. 

When Paul wrote the Epistle to the Church at Corinth, 
that city was the metropolis of the province of Achaia, the 
seat of its learning, elegance and arts, the rival of Athens in 
its schools of philosophy and rhetoric, and the acknowledged 
mistress of Greece, and perhaps of the world, in sensuality 
and voluptuousness. The Corinthians seem to have blended 
in their character the active curiosity of the Greeks with the 



304 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

effeminate luxury of the Asiatics — to have been a compound 
of whatevci' could give acuteness to thought and unbridled 
licentiousness to lust, and so to have combined an uncommon 
degree of intellectual vigour with an equal corruption of 
manners. We can form some conception of the state of 
society among them from the fact which Strabo mentions, 
that the temple of Venus at Corinth contained more than a 
thousand harlots whose devotion was prostitution and whose 
religion was their shame. The destruction of the city did 
not eradicate the evil. The same excesses prevailed after it 
was rebuilt that had disgraced it before ; and as it became a 
second time the eye and the glory of Greece in magnificence 
and elegance, commerce and the arts, it became also the 
mother of harlots and the mistress of abominations. That 
the inhabitants of such a city, busily intent upon the vain 
pursuits and the keen rencounters of intellectual dynamics, 
and slavishly devoted to the most disgusting licentiousness 
of personal habits, should have rejected the Gospel of Jesus 
is not to be thought strange ; and it was still less strange 
that they should denounce it as foolishness when we remem- 
ber what they were accustomed to regard as wisdom. Con- 
ceiving of nothing higher in the scale of intellectual distinc- 
tion than to be the founder of some new sect in philosophy, 
they probably looked upon Jesus as the setter-forth of strange 
doctrines upon their favourite and darling subjects of specu- 
lation, and Paul as an able champion of his j)eculiar opinions, 
and hence may have felt a strong curiosity to hear what he 
had to say in defence of the doctrines of his Master. As in 
Athens, so probably at Corinth, he was encountered on the 
one hand by the " budge doctors of the Stoic fur," armed at 
all points to maintain the sullen dogmas of their school, and 
on the other by the sleek and voluptuous disciples of Epi- 
curus, acknowledging no religion but pleasure, no law but 
lust, while the prim and starched Rhetoricians stood ready to 
try every sentence which he uttered by the technical niceties 
of trope and figure. We can well conceive that as he rose 
to announce his message, they were all eye, all ear — curiosity 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 305 

Stood on tiptoe; and as ho proceeded to reveal the unknown 
God, and to summon their consciences to the tribunal of 
eternal justice, and to unravel the sublime mysteries of re- 
demption, they probably looked in amazement upon his 
glowing fervour and holy enthusiasm, utterly at a loss how 
to account for them except avS the ravings of the mystical 
Apollo. But when he came to the doctrine of a future resur- 
rection, it was beyond all endurance : the Stoic could not 
abide it, and the Epicurean abhorred it for its consequences ; 
and perhaps in charity they may have come to the conclusion 
of most noble Festus, that Paul was beside himself, tliough 
they were not likely to attribute his madness to an excess 
of learning. Certain it was, that the instructions of the 
Apostle had none of the characteristics of what tiiey called 
wisdom. Instead of proposing a system of philosophy as a 
matter of subtle and doubtful disputation, to be discussed 
and treated upon the same principles with the systems of the 
Porch, Lyceum and Academy, he announced a series of the 
most momentous truths, and enforced their reception as a 
matter of imperative duty upon the solemn authority of God. 
He stood forth, not as the advocate of a sect, but the mes- 
senger of Heaven ; and he proclaimed truths in the name of 
the Lord God which were not to furnish amusement for the 
intellect, but to take possession of the man and bring every 
high thought and lofty imagination in captivity to the obe- 
dience of his jNIastcr. They saw at a glance that the system 
of Paul demolished the wisdom of man; that it was peculiar 
and exclusive ; and that, as it was intimately connected with 
the life and history of a Jew who had notoriously been put 
to death as a malefactor — as it held forth this victim of a 
nation's vengeance to be the only Saviour of lost sinners — 
they could find no milder form of expressing their contempt 
for it than by denouncing it i\s foolishness. 

To those unacquainted with the Jewish Scriptures, and 
familiar only Avith the humble circumstances of the Saviour's 
life and its shameful and ignominious close, the first procla- 
mation of the Gospel must have api^eared prodigiously pre- 

VoL. II.— 20 



306 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

postcrous. What would be the natural thought of the human 
mind ? Am I to believe that Jesus is able to save to the 
uttermost all who come unto God through Him who could 
not "deliver Himself from violence and shame? Am I to 
regard Him as the ambassador of God whose birth-place 
was a stable, whose cradle was a manger, and who wandered 
through the world a homeless and outcast stranger ? Must 
I worship Him as King of kings and Lord of lords who 
paid tribute to Csesar, stood as a criminal before the bar of 
man and died the death of the lowest order of malefactors ? 
These were strange enigmas ; and the least to be expected 
from a blind and unbelieving world was that they should 
have been ridiculed as foolishness. The grand difficulty of 
the Gospel was Christ crucified — the humiliation, reproach 
and death of Jesus. Jew and Gentile stumbled here. The 
Jews required a sign, and the Greeks sought after wisdom, 
yet the Gospel gave the Jew no such sign as he demanded, 
and the Greek no such wisdom as he sought for. It simply 
held forth Christ crucified, and this to the Jews was a 
stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness. Still, the 
Apostle persisted in preaching it, because to those who Avere 
called or supernaturally enlightened by the Spirit of God, 
whether Jews or Greeks, it was found to be the power of 
God and the wisdom of God. It displayed, in other words, 
an interposition of Divine power more signal and glorious 
than could have been afforded by the most portentous signs 
from heaven, and revealed an arrangement of Divine wisdom 
compared with which the dialectics of the schools were vain 
deceits and empty babblings. Christ crucified is a compen- 
dious phrase for the whole scheme of redemption ; and Paul's 
language conveys the idea that such power and such wisdom 
are nowhere to be found as are developed in the economy of 
grace. Let us consider then, in the first place, the Divine 
power, and in the next the Divine wisdom, as these attributes 
are illustrated in the plan of redemption : 

I. There are three forms in which the power of God is 
displayed in the salvation of men, differing from each other 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 307 

in excellence, yet equally essential to the success of the 
enterprise. 

1. The first is in the exercise of naked strength, or of direct 
and immediate causation, by which physical effects are pro- 
duced which did not exist before. As this seems to be the 
simplest idea of power, so it is the form under which it is 
most commonly and naturally contemplated. If we were 
required to produce a proof of the Divine omnipotence, we 
should spontaneously turn to the works of creation, and par- 
ticularly to those enormous masses of matter which, accord- 
ing to the Apostle, declare the invisible things of their 
Maker, even His eternal power and Godhead. The results 
here are striking and obvious, and arrest the attention of the 
most stupid understanding ; but in the mere exercise of force 
of this sort, though there is much to command admiration 
and inspire dread, there is nothing in itself really venerable 
— there is nothing which declares the moral character of its 
possessor and lays a foundation for hope or trust. This 
kind of power, which may be styled the omnipotence of 
causation, though it is called into requisition in the business 
of redemption, is perhaps not more conspicuously displayed 
than in the works of creation. To it we ascribe the incar- 
nation of the Son, for it was certainly an act of power to 
create the human nature of Jesus and to bring it into inti- 
mate and indissoluble union with His Divine personality. 
This cementing of heaven and earth. Deity and humanity, 
weakness and omnipotence, time and eternity, dependence 
and sovereignty, is surely an exercise of strength as prodigious 
and amazing as calling the worlds into being and upholding 
them in their courses. The miracles of Jesus, also, which 
were wrought in attestation of His Divine commission, must 
be referred to the same kind of power, together with His 
own resurrection from the dead, and that of all His people 
which is yet to take place. In the production of these results 
there is involved the exercise of naked force, of pure, irre- 
sistible might, or whatever is contained in the true concep- 
tion of a cause. But as this is not the power which the 



308 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

Apostle particularly celebrates, we pass on to notice a nobler 
form in which the strengtli of the Almighty is brought to 
bear upon the salvation of men ; and that is — 

2. In the secret and silent influence which He exerts upon 
their minds. As mind, which is essentially active, is the 
immediate and the only seat of power, the control of it must 
necessarily demand a higher order of energy than the shaping, 
wielding and arranging of matter which is purely passive, 
and therefore contains no principle of 0})position to any ex- 
ternal influence exerted upon it. Hence the creation of the 
universe does not evince a power so glorious as the success- 
ful government of a single province of intelligent creatures. 
To call a world into being is certainly a great work, but to 
turn the heart of a king as the rivers of water are turned 
is a greater. David tells us that " God by His strength set- 
teth fast the mountains, being girded with power, and stilleth 
the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult 
of the people," evidently implying, from the form of the ex- 
pression, that it was a more stupendous exhibition of power 
to still the tumult of the people than to settle the mountains 
and control the sea. Even among men the power over mind 
is regarded as a much more enviable distinction than the 
power over external nature, and hence the orator and poet, 
who wield successfully the elements of persuasion and of 
pleasure, have always received a large share of homage and 
applause even from the rude and unpolished. We are not 
to look, then, for the highest and most glorious displays of 
Divine power in what is obvious and sensible — in the whirl- 
wind and the storm, the starry heavens or the expanded 
firmament — but in the minds which Pie has formed with 
active principles, rendering them capable of obedience or 
rebellion, of happiness or woe. To keep busy, inquisitive 
and thinking spirits within the bounds which His will has 
prescribed, though not so imposing and striking, is a much 
more arduous work than to keep the sun in his place and 
the planets in their orbits. Yet such an influence over 
minds is put forth by God, the Holy Spirit, in His depart- 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 309 

ment of the work of redemption. The jiowcr which He 
exerts in the regeneration and sanctification of the sinner 
consists partly in a direct action upon the faculties of the 
soul and partly in what has been technically styled moral 
suasion. In other words, He first, by a direct and imme- 
diate exercise of power, puts the soul in a condition to re- 
ceive the truth, and then by the truth effectually persuades. 
These two operations are always associated in His saving 
work. He first enables and then persuades ; and at every 
step in the subsequent progress of the Divine life He must 
sustain and invigorate the holy principles Avhich He at first 
implanted, or the work of sanctification would come to a 
stand. This direct action upon the soul is peculiar to God 
alone ; it is His royal prerogative, and we find nothing in 
the influence which men or devils can exert upon each other 
at all analogous to it or that can even remotely illustrate it. 
God compares it to the power employed in the first creation : 
those who are born again or effectually called are said to 
be new creatures in Christ Jesus, the workmanship of God. 
They are said to be the subjects of a power as great as that 
which raised Jesus from the dead, to be quickened into life 
by the Spirit of the Lord. What the nature of this j^ower 
is, or how it is exerted, it is impossible for man to compre- 
hend. The wind bloweth where it listeth ; thou hearest the 
sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh nor 
whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 
As in the original creation the Spirit brooded over the 
formless mass and brought beauty and order out of chaos 
and confusion, so in the new creation He broods over 
the benighted mind and distracted affections, and brings 
liffht out of darkness, holiness from sin. He slavs tlie old 
man, and raises a new man like the fabled phoenix from 
the ashes, formed in knowledge, righteousness and true 
holiness after the image of Him that created him. It is 
a trreat work to transform the children of the Devil — for 
such we all are by nature — into the children of God, and 
to plant the spirit of heaven where the spirit of hell had 



310 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

reigned. It is the Lord's doing, and marvellous in our 
eyes. 

But there is among men, in the achievements of the orator, 
something analogous to the power of moral suasion. It con- 
sists simply in suggesting such truths and motives to the 
mind as are calculated to influence its determinations. It 
just brings the truth in contact with the soul, and its work 
is done. It is obvious that moral suasion is impossible un- 
less there be a congruity between the state of the mind and 
the truths which are brought to bear upon it. The mind 
must be able to apprehend them, the motives must be such 
as are adapted to the real state of the heart, otherwise you 
might as well talk of the power of truth over beasts and 
rocks. Truth has no influence except as it falls in with the 
current of the soul ; and hence moral suasion necessarily 
supposes that men are already renewed — that their minds 
and hearts are in unison with the truth, capable of appre- 
hending its power and feeling its force ; and hence God 
employs it as a means in the guidance and government of 
His people. To suppose that spiritual truth can make a 
spiritual man is just as absurd as to suppose that scientific 
truth can create a natural understanding. The understand- 
ing must first exist, and then the truth is received, and so 
the spiritual man must first exist, and then the truth may 
have its influence upon him. When the direct action of the 
Spirit and moral suasion are brought together, then you have 
a correct idea of God's power in the application of redemption 
or effectual calling. 

3. The third form in which the power of God is displayed 
in redemption is under the character of a just and righteous 
Governor ; and here it assumes its most glorious and august 
form. In His moral government God reveals Himself as 
the patron of holiness and the avenger of sin ; it is a govern- 
ment of law adapted to the capacity of moral agents and 
supported by adequate sanctions. It is here, and here only, 
that the moral character of God is made known to His 
creatures. The power which is employed to sustain the 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 311 

interests of righteousness and to uphold the eternal principles 
of justice and truth is sublime and venerable. As the natural 
government of God consists in maintaining the established 
order of nature or those physical laws, such as attraction 
and repulsion, in conformity with which all physical changes 
take place, so His moral government consists in administer- 
ing the affairs of moral agents, dispensing to them happiness 
or misery according to the eternal principles of rectitude 
which necessarily grow out of the Divine character. The 
justice and holiness of the Divine nature are the rule of the 
Divine Avill, and without denying Himself, God cannot, as 
Judge of all the earth, do otherwise than right. But it may 
be asked how God as a righteous Governor has displayed 
His moral power any more strikingly in the redemption of 
men than it was displayed in the happiness of angels and the 
destruction of devils, or than it would have been displayed 
by the perdition of our race. There is a peculiarity in His 
power in this case, because there were peculiar difficulties to 
be overcome. The entertaining of a purpose of mercy created 
a crisis in the Divine government ; it seemed to unhinge all 
the principles upon which that had previously been conducted. 
The grand problem to be solved was, How shall God spare 
the sinner without letting down the majesty of the law — 
without ceasing to be the patron of righteousness and the 
avenger of guilt? There a]>poared to be a moral impossi- 
bility in the salvation of the sinner, because the principles 
of eternal justice demanded his condemnation. It was in 
reconciling the conflicting elements of mercy and justice, 
benevolence and truth, and in building up a stupendous 
fabric of grace without compromising a solitary principle of 
equity, that the power of God was illustriously displayed. 
And as the resurrection of Jesus was the consummation of 
the plan by which He proposed to magnify the hnv Avithout 
destroying the transgressor, the Scriptures speak with pointed 
emphasis of the exceeding energy of God's mighty power 
which it required to raise Jesus from the dead. The diffi- 
culties in His resurrection were not physical, but moral : He 



312 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

was the representative of sinners, and could only be raised 
as the first-fruits of His people after a full satisfaction ren- 
dered to justice and an ample reparation to the Divine law. 
The power of God, however, in redemption can only be 
known from the plan which He devised, and hence — 

II. We come now in the next place to consider the wisdom 
of God as displayed in the work of redemption. Wisdom 
consists in the accomplishment of noble ends by excellent 
means. It is not enough that there be skill in the adapta- 
tion of the means ; the end Avhich is proposed to be com- 
passed must be worthy of the mind avhich designs it. But 
where the end is truly valuable, and a just correspondence is 
borne to it by the means employed to secure it, there true 
wisdom is found. To bring the wisdom of God in the 
economy of grace to the standard of these principles, it will 
be necessary to consider the end which God proposed to 
Himself, the means by which He has accomplished it, and 
their mutual correspondence or adaptedness to each other. 

1. The chief and highest end of redemption, as of all the 
other works of the Almighty, is the manifestation of His 
own glory. No less an object would be worthy of the atten- 
tion of the Divine Mind. Whatever excellence the creatures 
possess is derived from the bounty of their Creator, and bears 
a slighter proportion to His infinite and everlasting perfec- 
tions than a drop of water to the boundless stores of ocean. 
Independent and self-sufficient. He must work all things 
according to the counsel of a will which is determined by 
nothing but the eternal and essential principles of His own 
nature. He cannot neglect the infinite excellences of His 
own character to take His plans or to borrow His motives 
of action from the fleeting, perishing, and, compared with 
His own, the vain perfections of the creature. In creation, 
providence and the moral government of the world, God 
proposes no less an end than the development to the mind 
of His intelligent creatures of His own glorious excellence. 
His works are so many mirrors in which He reflects so much 
of His own image as they arc able to behold. There they 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's TOWER AND WISDOM. 313 

may read what He is by contemplating what He docs. 
They cannot approach His awful throne ; the light would be 
intolerable to created eyes ; but they can behold Him veiled 
and shadowed in His works. They cannot fathom His 
glorious essence, but they can learn His character from 
what He hath wrought before them and around them. It 
is this manifestation of His character and pcrfc(;tions, which 
in themselves are infinitely glorious, that the Scriptures mean 
when they speak of God's working all things with a refer- 
ence to His glory. His real glory is to be what He is, and 
as His works declare what He is, so they reveal His glory 
to those who are wise and attentively observe them. The 
heavens declare God's glory, and the firmament showcth 
His handiwork, because the invisible things of Him from 
the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood 
by the things that are made, even His eternal power and 
Godhead. But Creation and Providence reveal only the 
back parts of the glory of the Lord ; the brightest beams of 
His glory. His face or countenance, can be seen only in the 
person of His Son. The mystery of redemption exhibits 
His character in a new and marvellous light. It is a new 
and brilliant page in the history of God's administrations — 
a new book sealed with seven seals, containing lessons of sur- 
passing interest, treating of God in loftier strains than the 
seraph's heart had ever reached, or the seraph's tongue; had 
ever uttered, until the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailed 
to unloose the seals and to open the book, and called upon 
the nations to come and know their God. The glory of 
Jehovah, as it was manifested to the world previously to the 
revelation of His scheme of grace, is as far eclipsed by the 
plan of salvation as the light of the stars, beautiful and 
lovely as they are, is eclipsed by the blaze of the rising sun. 
Creation and Providence proclaimed God's power anil good- 
ness; Conscience proclaimed His righteousness, and Hell 
proclaimed His vengeance. These were so many stars, dif- 
fering from each other in glory, in which we could see all 
that could be known of God, but they were only stars; the 



314 THE GOSPEL, GOD'S POWER AND WISDOM. 

light was feeble ! But Avhen Jesus came the Sun of right- 
eousness arose, darkness fled away and the light of God's 
glory, reflected from the face of Jesus Christ, scattered its 
rays through heaven, earth and hell, sending a deeper thrill 
of joy through the breasts of angels, opening a prospect of 
hope to perishing men, and wringing a heavier wail of 
anguish from tlie bosoms of the damned. In contemplating 
the stupendous scheme of grace — 

" Our souls are lost in reverent awe, 
We love and we adore ; 
The first archangel never saw 
So much of God before." 

In order to understand fully how the perfections of God 
are so illustriously displayed in this great work, we must 
consider its direct and immediate end, which is the Salvation 
of sinners. Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of 
God imto salvation. And let it not be thought that the sal- 
vation of the lost as a subordinate end is unworthy of the 
great and ever-blessed God. On the contrary, when it is 
made to furnish a suitable occasion for the exhibition of the 
most exalted excellences of character, it becomes as worthy 
of the Divine regard as any other matter in His moral 
government of His creatures. It is not for the sake of the 
guilty, but for His own Name's sake that He has mercy 
upon them. There are three considerations which illustrate 
the Divine wisdom in this matter, and vindicate the character 
of God from all suspicions of stooping beneath the glory of 
His throne : 

(1.) The very existence of such an attribute as mercy or 
grace could not have been known without the development 
of some such scheme as that of our salvation. To His holy 
and unfallen creatures God was known to be benevolent 
from the constant communications of His goodness, but it is 
one thing to bestow favours upon the upright, and quite 
another to bless the unthankful and disobedient. It is true 
that the holiest deserve nothing; on the score of merit from 



THE GOSPEL, god's POWER AND WISDOM. 315 

the hands of their Creator, but although they have no neces- 
sary claims to His lavour, tliey have never provoked His 
anger. The guilty on the other hand not only deserve no 
good, but are justly exposed to the inflictions of vengeance. 
They have sinned, and God, as a righteous Governor, cannot 
overlook their transgressions without letting down the majesty 
of His own law and revoking those awful sanctions which 
support the purity of His throne and proclaim the hateful- 
ness of sin. The principle of justice, which consists in ren- 
dering to every nian his due, and of course to the sinner the 
wages of sin, which is death, is an essential attribute of God. 
The punishment which is threatened in the law is not an 
arbitrary sanction of the precept. When we behold a deed 
of perfidy and baseness there is an instinctive feeling that 
the transgressor should undergo a certain degree of pain ; 
and this feeling arises apart from all considerations of per- 
sonal resentment or political expediency. We feel that it is 
riirht, it is due to his deed, that he shoidd sulfer. Should 
you see a son who had been affectionately nursed by a ten- 
der mother, in order to free himself from the responsibility 
of soothing her declining age plunge a dagger into that 
mother's heart, you would not only be chilled with horror at 
the crime, but you would at once feel that no amount of pain 
would be disproportionate to the magnitude of his offence. 
The reflection would probably never enter your mind that 
if such cases were permitted to pass with impunity the conse- 
quences would be disastrous to society ; but your instinctive 
sentiments, the moral emotions of your heart, having linked 
together crime and pain, the transgressor and punishment, 
would doom the ingrate to a dreadful end. In these instinc- 
tive feelings you may recognize the true idea of justice — a 
quality which, as it exists perfectly in the mind of God, 
must always be the avenger of His law. As sin is an infi- 
nite evil, the sanction of the law, on the principles of justice, 
must contain an infinite curse. God must denounce this 
curse upon the disobedient — the sanction must be enforced; 
or God must deny Himself, cease to be what He is necessa- 



316 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

rily, and vacate His throne, leaving His universe to the 
darkness and horror of anarchy and misrule. If the punish- 
ment of the guilty were a mere matter of expediency, mercy 
might be exercised freely where prudence did not forbid it ; 
but as it is a matter of right, of eternal, unchanging, essential 
rectitude, there would seem to be no place in the moral 
government of God for such an element as pardon, and con- 
sequently no such attribute in the Divine character as mercy 
to the guilty. But such a quality is necessarily involved in 
the scheme of salvation. Had there not existed in tlie Di- 
vine mind a })revious willingness to receive the disobedient 
into favour, justice would have had its course and the sanc- 
tions of the law have been enforced. If there be salvation, 
it must be from grace ; there is no other principle from 
which it could proceed ; and hence the salvation of sinners 
has been made to develo]) in the government of God an 
attribute of His nature which our limited capacities would 
have pronounced it to be impossible that He should possess 
— an attribute so glorious that God rejoices in it, and regards 
with peculiar complacency all who hope and delight in it. 
If the salvation of men in no other sense glorified God than 
as it evinced that He is merciful and gracious, it would have 
been worthy of His majesty to save them. Shall He create 
worlds upon worlds to display His power and make known 
the manifold riches of His goodness, and shall Mercy, wliich 
rejoices over judgment, be for ever eclipsed by the clouds of 
justice ? If it is not beneath God to create a world to reveal 
His might, it is as little beneath Him to redeem the guilty 
to display His grace. If, when we look to the starry heavens 
and contemplate the countless worlds of stupendons magni- 
tude moving in harmony and grandeur through the fields 
of space, we adore His power and acknowledge the scone to 
be worthy of God, why should we turn away from that 
grander scene beyond these lower skies, where, instead of 
masses of matter, the monuments of power, we behold im- 
mortal spirits, the monuments of grace — where, instead of 
worlds moving in harmony around other worlds, we behold 



THE GOSPEL, god's POWER AND WISDOM. 317 

enraptured minds moving in glory and blessedness about the 
throne of God ? Just as far as mind surpasses matter, and 
activity inertness, so far is grace more glorious than nature ; 
and just as far as heaven surpasses all the other works of 
God, so far does mercy rejoice over all other qualities of His 
being. And yet this perfection supposes guilt and misery, 
and God could not reveal it without stooping to the lost. 
Hence, there is wisdom in the very purpose of salvation ; 
the end from its relations to God is a noble one' well worthy 
of His signal interference. 

(2.) This will farther appear from considering that the 
scheme of redemption not only proves the existence of grace, 
but solves the mysterious problem of its compatibility with 
the exercise of justice. It explains the otherwise inexplic- 
able enigma that God can be just, and at the same time the 
justifier of those who have transgressed His law. When 
we consider the relations which fallen man bore to his 
Creator and offended Lord, we shall see at once that his sal- 
vation involved a difficulty which created minds were unable 
to explain, and which, it would seem, tasked the resources 
of infinite wisdom to remove. There was a question to be 
answered which, as it silenced all orders of intelligent crea- 
tures, it was becoming in God to step forward and resolve. 
Justice demanded that the rebel should die, truth required 
that God's threatening should be executed, and holiness sus- 
tained the cause of justice and of truth, since God is of purer 
eyes than to behold iniquity. How, then, shall the captive 
be delivered and the prey be taken from the mighty? 
Mercy says. Spare ! but all the other attributes of Jehovah 
seem to conspire against the purpose of His grace and pro- 
test against the salvation of the guilty. "The sublimest 
spirits in heaven," says the charming Bates, " were at a loss 
how to unravel the difficulty and to find out the miraculous 
way to reconcile infinite mercy with inflexible justice — how 
to satisfy the demands of the one and the requests of the 
other. God was to overcome Himself before He restored 
man. In this exigence His mercy excited His wisdom to 



318 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

interpose as an arbiter, which, in the treasure of its incom- 
prehensible light, found out an admirable expedient to save 
man without prejudice to His other perfections." And in 
the plan which was actually devised, as the same writer sub- 
sequently remarks, there is " a SAveet concurrence of all the 
attributes. Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness 
and peace kiss each other. Who can count up this heap of 
wonders ? Who can unfold all the treasures of this myste- 
rious love? ■ The tongue of an angel cannot explicate it ac- 
cording to its dignity ; it is the fairest copy of the Divine 
wisdom, the consummation of all God's counsels, wherein 
all the attributes are displayed in their brightest lustre ; it 
is here the manifold wisdom of God appears. The angels 
of light bend themselves with extraordinary application of 
mind and ardent affections to study the rich and unsearch- 
able variety that is in it. Only the same understanding 
comprehends it which contrived it. But as one that views 
the ocean, though he cannot see its bounds or bottom, yet 
sees so much as to know that that vast collection of waters is 
far greater than what is within the compass of his short 
sight, so, though we cannot understand all the depths of 
that immense wisdom which ordered the way of our salva- 
tion, yet we may discover so much as to know with the 
Apostle that it surpasses knowledge." And how exalted 
must that end be which in the process and mode of its ac- 
complishment reveals the character of God, not in detached 
and isolated features, but brings all His attributes together 
in harmonious accord, and presents the Divine perfections as 
a beautiful, glorious and consistent whole ; and such an end 
is the salvation of man by Christ crucified ! 

(3.) And what still more enhances the Divine wisdom in 
this Avhole matter is that all this harvest of glory has been 
reaped from a most unpromising soil. Sin, which in itself 
is essentially odious to God and at war with all the princi- 
ples of His nature, has been made by His infinite wisdom 
to furnish an occasion for the manifestation of His moral 
excellences more strikina; and glorious than could have 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 319 

taken place without it. In this is the triumpli of His wis- 
dom, that He has extracted praise from the provinces of 
rebellion, and made His holiness peculiarh- illustrious in the 
midst of sin. He has gone into the very cliambers of death, 
and waked up the energies of life among those whom He 
represents as emphatically dead. The weapons of the Devil 
have been turned upon himself — his guile and malice, in 
introducing sin into our world and so bringing it under the 
frown of its Maker, have been most signally defeated. In- 
stead of the widespread ruin from the blasting curse of the 
Almighty which he no doubt anticipated would make this 
earth the very door of hell, behold, the fallen creature is ex- 
alted to a glory and enriched with a blessedness far beyond 
what would or could have been enjoyed if Adam liad main- 
tained his integrity ! He is not only enriched with eternal 
life, but his nature has been brought into mysterious union 
with that of his Creator, and exalted to the throne of God 
and made the judge of angels themselves. Sin, instead of 
banishing man for ever from his God, has cemented a union 
so close and indissoluble as to make it impossible that the 
believing soul should ever again be separated from the 
Fountain of all holiness and good. " It is a mystery in 
nature," says the same author from whom we have quoted 
already, " that the corruption of one thing is the generation 
of another ; it is more mysterious in grace that the fall of 
man should occasion his more noble restitution. Innocence 
was not his last end ; his supreme felicity transcends the first. 
The holiness of Adam was perfect, but mutable ; but holi- 
ness in the redeemed, though in a less degree, shall be victo- 
rious over all temptations, for they are joined to the heavenly 
Adam in a strict and inviolable union. And those graces 
are acted by them for the exercise of which there were no 
objects and occasions in innocence, as compassion to the 
miserable, forgiveness of injuries, fortitude and patience; all 
which, as they are a most lively resemblance of the Divine 
perfections, so an excellent ornament to the soul and infinitely 
endear it to God ;" and the glory of our renewed state ex- 



320 THE GOSPEL, GOd's POWER AND WISDOM. 

ceeds our primitive felicity from the mysterious relation 
which M'c bear to the Son of God. Such are the magnificent 
blessings which by heavenly wisdom are extracted from sin, 
which naturally has a tendency to produce notliing but a 
curse. Surely our fallen world was a fit theatre for the 
gracious interposition of God when His unsearchable counsel, 
contrary to the very nature of things, and contrary appa- 
rently to all the principles of His government, could elicit 
light from darkness, a blessing from the curse, life from 
death, and holiness from sin. Grace has proved to the 
ruined family of Adam a heavenly elixir, transmuting all 
its coarse materials into the pure gold of the sanctuary. 

2. Having now evinced the wisdom of God in the end 
proposed in the redemption of sinners, let us next consider 
the fitness and excellence of the means by which it is accom- 
plished. It must strike us as at least becoming, if not abso- 
lutely necessary, that the arrangements of our salvation 
should have been made upon the same principle by which 
death and all our woe were originally introduced. God has 
never dealt with men personally and individually as in all 
probability He dealt with angels ; but as He has established 
a sort of unity in the race by the peculiar mode of its propaga- 
tion, having made all nations of one blood, so He has, in both 
of the covenants which the Bible makes known, dealt with 
men collectively through a common representative. The 
Covenant of Works was entered into with Adam as the federal 
head of his race, and the Covenant of Grace was entered into 
with Christ as the federal head of His seed. Sin and misery 
flowed in upon our w^orld through the channel of imputa- 
tion, and life and joy and blessedness are dispensed upon 
precisely the same principle. If God had communicated the 
blessings of the second covenant upon a different principle 
from the one which He established as the basis of all His 
transactions with our race in the first covenant, it would 
have argued a change of the Divine mind ; it would have 
broken up that variety which obtains in the moral govern- 
ment of His creatures, and it would have been a virtual im- 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 321 

putation upon His wisdom in originally adopting a principle 
which He was subsequently unable to cany out. God there- 
fore has manifested His wisdom in building the fabric of 
mercy upon the very same foundation on which the hopes of 
the race were originally placed and destroyed. He has thus 
shown it to be a principle which does not contain the elements 
of failure within itself. He has shown that it is fully ade- 
quate to all the various exigencies of His government over 
man, and thus thrown upon man himself the guilt and re- 
sponsibility of his fall. The very rock on which he stumbled 
is that on which he must stand for ever — the principle whi(;h 
ruined him is the principle which must save him. God will 
not change the radical principles of the government — the 
established constitution, if I may so speak — of this province 
of His moral empire. Those who quarrel with the doctrine 
of imputation do not seem to be aware that they are rebelling 
against a cardinal law, and perhaps the distinguishing law, 
of God's dealings with the family of man ; and they might 
just as treasonably insist upon each man's being created at 
once perfect and full grown, complete in all the faculties 
of soul and body, without the tedious process which now 
obtains, as to contend that each of the race should be upon 
trial for himself. In other words, they might just as reason- 
ably arraign infinite wisdom for not making us angels as for 
not treating with us in the matter of salvation as He treated 
with them. Those spirits of light, having been brought into 
being without dependence upon each other, were placed each 
for himself upon independent, personal probation, and each 
stood or fell by his own personal obedience ; but we, having 
been brought into the world by a necessary connection with 
each other, were put upon trial in the first of our species, 
who just as effectually evinced what human nature would 
do as though that nature had been tested in all its possessors. 
The fundamental law, then, upon which the moral intereste 
of humanity were suspended, or the distinctive feature of the 
Divine administration in regard to man, is the principle of 
federal representation, and, by necessary consequence, of di- 

VoL. II.— 21 



822 THE GOSPEL, GOd's POWER AND WISDOM. 

rect and immediate imputation. To inquire therefore into 
the suitableness or excellency of the means by which redemp- 
tion is accomplished, is just to inquire into the suitableness 
and excellency of the Federal Head whom God has appointed 
for the Church ; and this is none other than the second 
Adam, the Lord from heaven. 

The wisdom "of God was remarkably displayed in the ex- 
traordinary constitution of the Saviour's person. Had Jesus 
been God alone. He could not have been the representative 
of man ; He could have been only the just Judge and the 
righteous Goyernor, upholding the insulted majesty of His 
law and visiting its vengeance upon the heads of transgress- 
ors. Had He been man alone. He would have been utterly 
incompetent to sustain the load of human guilt and to make 
satisfaction for the sins of His people ; but by combining the 
two natures in one mysterious personality, He is qualified by 
His participation of our flesh to be our representative and 
head, and abundantly able to do the office of a kinsman. 
The law required obedience from man, and denounced the 
curse of rebellion upon man ; the law will accept no other 
obedience but the obedience of humanity, and no other suf- 
fering but the suffering of humanity. Could an angel have 
interposed in our behalf, the law would have turned aside 
from His proffered substitution, because it was man's blood 
which alone could satisfy its curse. It would accept no me- 
diator but one who claimed a fellowship with our race, was 
bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, and blood of our blood. 
The Saviour of sinners, whoever he be, must be able also 
to sustain the infinite weight of Divine wrath without being 
crushed by the burden ; must be able to receive the sword 
of justice into his own bosom, and yet rise un destroyed from 
the stroke ; must be able to stand between the sinner and an 
angry God, and maintain his position unshaken and firm 
until all the clouds of infinite vengeance have burst and 
wasted their fury on his head and left the sinner unscathed 
by the storm. He must be able to bring in a righteousness 
which meets the highest demands of law and affords a title 



■ THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 323 

to the kingdom of glory. He must be able to storm the 
citadel of hell, and by the arm of power to spoil the hosts of 
darkness and deliver the captives from the hands of the de- 
stroyer. He must be able to reunite the soul to God and 
engrave the Divine image again upon it, and establish it in 
righteousness and holiness for ever. He must be able to 
raise the body from the tomb and fit it in glory and spiritual 
excellence for the immediate presence of Jehovah. All this 
he must be able to do, and yet be a man, or the work of 
redemption must come to an eternal stand. And where shall 
such a man be found? All the descendants of Adam, as 
they successively rise into being, pass under the curse, and 
so none can by any means redeem his brother or give to God 
a ransom for his soul ; or could one, by extraordinary inter- 
position, be born holy and undefiled, his limited capacities 
would be crushed under the weight of infinite guilt. He 
must possess in his own person the incommunicable perfec- 
tions of God in order to make an infinite atonement, to de- 
stroy the works of the Devil, to bring in an everlasting 
righteousness, to create the heart anew in knowledge, right- 
eousness and holiness, to pluck the sting from death and to 
open the kingdom of heaven to those who by nature were 
children of wrath. God and Man he must be to meet the 
exigencies of our case. One person of the adorable Trinity 
must become incarnate, and wisdom pitched upon the Second 
as the most suitable and proper. It was not fit that the 
Father, who is of none, neither begotten, should be placed in 
an attitude of subjection to His own Eternal Son, who by 
an ineffable and eternal generation received the essence of 
Divinity from the Father. It was not fit that the Holy 
Ghost, who eternally proceeded from the Father and the 
Son, should be placed in an attitude of authority over the 
Son, as would have been the case had He become incarnate 
and had the Son fulfilled His functions in the plan of salva- 
tion ; so that none could so appropriately assume our nature 
as the Second person in the blessed Godhead. But supposing 
this matter determined, how shall He assume the nature of 



324 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

man without the stain of original sin ? Divine w^isdom met 
this difficulty by making Him emphatically the Seed of the 
Woman, by suspending the usual law of propagation and 
miraculously communicating our blood and nature through 
the medium of a virgin, so as to avoid the bond of federal 
union with Adam and thus evade the curse of the covenant. 
Being thus marvellously qualified by the peculiar constitu- 
tion of His person to discharge the functions of Redeemer, 
Jesus, in human nature and as the Divinely-appointed rep- 
resentative of His people, did all that they were required to 
do, suffered all that they were required to suffer, and so gave 
them a title to everlasting life. The salvation of sinners 
was secured by such a Mediator without compromising a 
solitary principle of the Divine government. The law main- 
tained its authority, and was more magnified and honoured 
by the obedience of the Son of God than it could have been 
by the obedience of all men. Justice received its due, and 
became more august and venerable when pouring its vials 
of vengeance upon the head of Jesus than if a fallen world 
had sunk beneath its curse. Truth was preserved inviolate, 
for human nature died the death and the Seed of the Woman 
descended into hell. Holiness remained unsullied, for the 
groans and agonies of the cross proclaimed God's abhorrence 
of sin in louder accents and deeper tones of emphasis than 
the wails of the damned in the gloomy prison of despair. 
And Mercy, charming Mercy, became the brightest star in 
the constellation of heavenly excellences, shining the more 
gloriously in the rigorous maintenance of justice, holiness 
and truth. Surely there is Avisdom in the cross of Christ 
when the highest glory of God and the eternal salvation of 
men alike proceed from it, and well might the angels intro- 
duce the birth of Jesus with songs of joy and anthems of 
praise ! 

Neither Jew nor Greek could understand how He who 
died as a condemned malefactor should yet be the right- 
eousness of God for the acceptance of men — how He who 
descended to the grave should bring life and immortality 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 325 

to light from the darkness of the tomb. They could not 
comprehend how "life should spring from death, glory 
from ignominy, and blessedness from a curse ;" but the mys- 
tery is cleared up when we remember who it was that died, 
and what relations He sustained when He hung upon the 
cross ; and so, instead of stumbling at this stumbling-stone, 
or denouncing it as foolishness, we contemplate in Christ cru- 
cified the stupendous expedient of infinite wisdom for saving 
those who are called. We feel it to be a sublime doctrine, 
so utterly surpassing the invention of man or the counsel 
of angels as to bear visibly stamped upon it the impress 
of Heaven. We feel the blood of Jesus to be so transcend- 
ently glorious "that the justice of God, not to be pro- 
pitiated by any other means, pursues the transgressor on 
earth and in hell, and that nothing in the universe can 
arrest it in its awful career until it stops in reverence at 
the cross of Christ." We there behold Deity incarnate, 
the Lord of glory sinking under a weight of suffering, and 
the Sun of righteousness sustaining an awful eclipse. Let 
us turn aside and behold this great sight, and as we survey 
it in all its astonishing relations let us confess it to be the 
wisdom of God in a mystery. 

3. The wisdom of God is further displayed in the scheme 
of redemption by applying its blessings in such a way as 
that His grace, which is in truth the fountain of»salvation, 
shall be prominently acknowledged. The medium through 
which we receive the benefits of Christ's mediation is faith, 
which consists in an entire renunciation of our own strength, 
righteousness and achievements, and in a simple depend- 
ence upon the kindness and favour of the Redeemer. We 
are to lean upon Him for the righteousness which alone can 
render us acceptable to God, for the knowledge which alone 
can make us truly wise, and for those communications of 
life and strength which alone can secure our personal holi- 
ness. In the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed 
from faith to faith, that all boasting may be excluded, and 
that he that glorieth may glory only in the Lord. All 



326 THE GOSPEL, GOd's POWER AND WISDOM. 

schemes of salvation which have been devised by man, and 
all corruptions of the Gospel which have been popular, 
have proceeded upon a mixture of Divine grace and human 
obedience, representing God as propitious to man only when 
man has complied with certain specified conditions, thus 
sharing the glory of salvation between the creature and 
Creator. But the gospel of Jesus humbles all flesh in the 
dust, and holds forth Christ as our wisdom and righteous- 
ness and sanctification and redemption. Even faith does 
not secure the blessing as an act of obedience or principle 
or duty ; it is no part of the righteousness by which we are 
justified. It is simply an instrument by which we appro- 
priate the obedience of Christ, and through which it is im- 
puted to us. Just as ordinary generation and a natural 
birth is the channel through which we become really con- 
nected with our first head, Adam, and receive the curse of 
his broken covenant, so spiritual generation and the new 
birth which implants or originates the principle of faith is 
the channel through which we become connected with the 
second Adam and are constituted heirs of his spiritual bless- 
ings. As the curse of Adam falls upon his race only when 
they have a real existence, so the blessing of Christ is 
bestowed upon his seed only as they are born into his spirit- 
ual kingdom. Faith, then, is no more the ground of justi- 
fication and salvation than natural birth is the ground of 
condemnation, though it is true that none are justified but 
believers, as none are condemned but the posterity of the 
first man. Faith unites us with Christ, and all the bless- 
ings of the covenant are consequent upon this union. 
Christ is the salvation of God, and faith lays hold of Him 
under that character, and in the very act renounces itself 
as a procuring cause of favour. And if indeed our hopes 
are made to depend upon the doings and sufferings, of a 
mediator and representative, it is surely befitting that we 
should be brought distinctly to acknowledge it, so as to 
assume our own position in the dust and to put the crown 
of glory on the head which deserves to wear it. If our 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 327 

salvation from first to last is a matter of pure grace, it is 
certainly becoming that this fact should be prominently 
pressed upon the sinner as he receives its blessings. If 
self-denial is the first great law of our religion and the con- 
fession of Christ its most imperative duty, it is peculiarly 
fit that the whole plan of salvation should be so conducted 
as to keep these principles constantly before the eyes of the 
redeemed. This is accomplished by the mystery of faith. 
God is exalted, the flesh is abased, and Christ is the all in 
all. The law of representation is preserved in its integrity, 
and imputation direct and immediate is the foundation of 
our hoj)e. A beautiful consistency is maintained in the 
whole plan of the Gospel. The spiritual temple goes iip 
without the sound of an axe or hammer, and as the head- 
stone thereof shall be brought forth there shall be shout- 
ings of Grace, Grace unto it ! It is the Lord's doing and 
marvellous in our eyes. He laid the foundation of this 
fabric in setting forth Christ as a federal Head, and He 
piles stone upon stone as He calls Plis seed into si)iritual 
being and cements them by His Spirit to the great founda- 
tion. The simplicity of faith never appears more lovely 
than when contrasted with the bungling devices of men. 
Their legal schemes, like the black ground of a jncture, 
heighten its brighter colours and proclaim it to be from 
God and themselves from man ;— just as the glory of the sun 
declares its original more strikingly when contrasted with a 
farthing rushlight. . 

Just examine the Arminian scheme, which is probably the 
most imposing of all the devices of man, and you will see 
what fearful confusion it introduces among the principles 
of the Gospel. It maintains that the death of Christ only 
bore such a relation to the race as to put each man on a 
new and modified probation, with the terms of which he is 
enabled to comply. Accordingly, each man is on personal 
and independent trial for himself Then God has changed 
the fundamental principles of His previous government of 
man. He has revoked the law of federal representation 



328 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

under which we were unquestionably placed at first, and the 
stupendous sacrifice of Christ was only a grand expedient 
to enable Deity to change His mind and institute a new 
order of government, as the old had proved a failure! 
Ah ! how true it is that the wisdom of man is foolishness 
with God ! He is the everlasting Jehovah, and changes 
not. The basis of His government on earth is still Repre- 
sentation, the great law of His kingdom is still Imputa- 
tion ; and these laws deal out a blessing or a curse according 
as we are found in the first or second Adam, natural birth 
connecting us with the first, and spiritual birth or faith with 
the second. Here is wisdom, the wisdom of God, though 
it may be denounced as foolishness by man. 

4. Finally, the wisdom of God appears in the plan of 
salvation by so arranging its provisions as to allure human 
confidence at every step and to secure the interests of per- 
sonal holiness. What can more strongly draw us to Christ 
than His mysterious participation of our nature ? We look 
upon Him as an elder brother sympathizing witli us in all 
our sorrows, knowing the force of all our temptations, and 
pitying our weakness in all our fears. We can go to 
Him as to a friend, and unbosom our cares and seek His 
assistance and direction. Again, when we look beyond 
His flesh and behold Him clothed with all the perfections 
of the Godhead, we feel that He deserves our confidence — 
that He is indeed a shelter from the storm, the shadow of a 
great rock in a weary land. What a ^vonderful Saviour ! 
When we rise yet higher and ask whence arose this myste- 
rious incarnation, we are conducted to the counsels of the 
Eternal Mind, and find that the wonderful scheme of saving 
the guilty originated in the bosom of infinite Love. We con- 
template a grace so astonishing and stupendous as apparently 
to rise above tlie ineffable regard of the eternal Father to 
His beloved Son — a love to sinners so mighty and over- 
whelming as to drown the attachment of the Son to His own 
glory and even His life ; and we feel that the God who has 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 329 

loved us with such a love is worthy of our hearts and should 
be trusted for all things. 

And just in projiortion as we are drawn to Christ wo are 
drawn from sin. In His cross we see God's abhorrence of 
it more strikingly displayed than in the torments of the lost; 
and as we become animated by the Spirit of the Saviour, and 
enter into the true meaning and intent of His sacrifice, we 
die to the flesh, we renounce the world, we overcome the 
Devil and live for God, for heaven, for immortality. Wc 
have a secret fellowship with Christ in His sufferings and 
death, and as He arose from the grave by the glory of the 
Father, even so we also walk in newness of life. 

Such in a brief view is the wisdom of God in the work of 
man's redemption through Christ crucified — His wisdom in 
the end. His wisdom iu the means, in the application and 
practical results of the scheme of grace. Let the Jews re- 
quire a sign and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but let it be 
the immovable purpose of our minds that we will know 
nothing but Christ crucified, being fully assured that Christ 
is the power of God aud the wisdom of God. What think 
ye of Christ? is and ever has been the distinguishing test of 
character among men ; and while some call Him a Prophet, 
others an Impostor, and others One of the People, none are 
safe but those who can say with Peter, Thou art the Son of 
the livinff God, and hast the words of eternal life ! 

To those who have been enlightened by Divine grace to 
behold and understand the glory of the cross, may be pre- 
sented a few motives for overflowing gratitude. They have 
been introduced into a new world ; they have been endowed 
with a knowledge which the most laborious efforts of the 
natural understanding could never reach ; they have been 
taught mysteries beyond the reach of reason or of sense, 
which eye hath not seen nor car heard, neither hath it 
entered into the heart of man to conceive, but God hath 
revealed them unto us by His Spirit. The world of grace is 
a supernatural world ; and as sense is the medium of our 
correspondence with matter, and reason with speculative 



330 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

truth, so faith is the medium of correspondence with the 
unseen mysteries of grace. And the knowledge of the truths 
connected with redemption is more glorious in its objects, 
more certain in its evidence and more valuable in its influ- 
ence than the discoveries of sense or the demonstrations of 
science. It is more noble in its objects, for what can be a 
sublimer subject of contemplation than the being, character 
and perfections of the Eternal God? The ancients pro- 
nounced Theology to be the first philosophy, but how dim 
and indistinct are the clearest intimations which Nature can 
aiford us of the infinite God ! It may present Him as a 
being of uncontrollable power, the cause of all other beings 
besides — it may give us some intimations that He is pure 
sj)irit, and present some shadowy evidences of His goodness 
and holiness ; but in regard to the sublime mystery of the 
Trinity, Nature is dumb. In regard to the still sublimer 
mystery of the incarnation of the Eternal Son and the way 
of salvation through His blood, she is compelled to preserve 
the silence of the tomb. Take away the light of redemption 
and leave us only to the guidance of reason, and how dark 
and dreary become the prospects of man! Unacquainted 
with the Being who made him ; unacquainted with his own 
everlasting destiny; strangely distracted between the ills of 
life and the fears of death ; trembling, he hardly knows why, 
with involuntary dread at the j)rospect of being summoned 
to the mysterious tribunal of an unseen power ; he passes on 
through life in darkness and apprehension, meets death in 
horror and despair, and lies down in the grave without the 
hope of rest even there to his soul. Man to the heathen 
world is a profound mystery only because they know not 
God. And we can never be sufficiently thankful for that 
grace which has brought life and immortality to light, which 
has revealed God as a merciful Father, has plucked the sting 
from death and shed a lustre upon the darkness of the tomb. 
Surely God, heaven and eternity are the most noble themes 
which can occupy our thoughts. These are the themes which 
the Gospel discusses. The subjects which it brings before 



THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 331 

US are those which occupied the Eternal Mind before time 
was born or providence in motion. They are those which 
angels study with profoundest reverence, those which were 
discussed upon the Mount of Vision, and which will be the 
perpetual song of heaven as long as heaven or God shall 
endure. They are not the temporary subjects which embrace 
the fleeting interests of time and sense ; the impress of eter- 
nity is on them, the glory of God is involved in them, and 
the interests of immortality depend on them. Here is know- 
ledge — the knowledge of God, the knowledge of ourselves, 
the knowledge which shall never vanish with tongues nor 
cease with prophecy. Ah ! how frivolous are all the discus- 
sions of Greek philosophy or human science compared with 
the mystery of God manifest in the flesh ! — the veriest babe 
in the kingdom of heaven far outstrips all the attainments 
of the Porch, Lyceum or Academy. Those schools have 
passed away, and the glory of their masters is known only 
as a matter of history ; but Christ crucified is still the magnet 
of souls, the hope of earth and the wonder of heaven. 
" Blessed are the eyes which see the things which we see ; 
for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to 
see those things which we see, and have not seen them, and 
to hear those things which we hear, and have not heard 
them." 

These things are confirmed to us by the most indisputable 
evidence. They do not depend upon the deductions of our 
own reason, but God has revealed them to us by His Spirit. 
We see them in the supernatural light of faith, which is to 
the spiritual what sense is to the natural, and reason to the 
intellectual world; and as it rests upon the testimony of God, 
we have no more right to question the truth of its disclosures 
than we have to disbelieve the information of our eyes or 
ears. Faith is a spiritual eye by which we converse with 
distant and supernatural realities— the organ through which 
God corresponds with the soul, and true faith, consequently, 
can never be mistaken so long as God continues a faithful 
and true witness. But as this knowledge is most certain in 



332 THE GOSPEL, god's POWER AND WISDOM. 

its principles, so it is also eminently happy in its influence. 
It does not terminate in barren speculation. When we be- 
hold the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 
we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory 
even as by the Spirit of the Lord. It is a light which can- 
not dwell with the darkness of sin ; wherever it appears the 
shadows of death flee away, and holiness, peace and comfort 
take possession of the soul. Such is the knowledge of Christ 
crucified. Let us rejoice if this Saviour, this wisdom of 
God in a mystery, has been revealed to our hearts. We have 
found a treasure compared with which the riches of all other 
knowledge are emptiness and beggary. And let us be sure 
that we exhibit its transforming influence by a holy walk 
and a heavenly conversation. If Christ crucified has been 
revealed to us, He has been formed within us, and the life 
which we now live in the flesh we will live by faith upon 
the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. 

But there are those to whom the preaching of the Cross is 
foolishness. Should it not alarm them that where God and 
angels and just men made perfect see so much to admire and 
rejoice in, they should see nothing to arrest their attention 
or enlist their regards ? Is it not a proof that there is some 
terrible disorder in the souls of such, that they can turn 
away from God incarnate to pursue the trifles of time and 
sense ? The burning bush was a great curiosity to Moses, 
and he turned aside to contemplate the wonderful phenome- 
non ; but here is a stranger wonder. It was a wonder even 
in heaven that God should be found in mortal flesh and bow 
His head and die. Here was a scene so portentous and 
wonderful that angels beheld it with amazement, hell with 
terror, and even inanimate Nature was moved at the specta- 
cle. That was no common event that shook the earth with 
convulsions, clothed the sun in sackcloth, and called up the 
dead themselves from the slumbers of the tomb. It Avas an 
hour of dreadful darkness — Nature in mourning for the ex- 
piring Son of God ! but in that moment of darkness the 
foundations of a new kingdom were laid, eclipsing by its 



THE GOSPEL, GOd's POWER AND WISDOM. 3o3 

splendour all the glories of Creation and Providence. The 
stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, which 
was not only to fill the earth, but the invisible realms of 
God's extended dominions. A new throne was erected so 
transcendently glorious that all other thrones must be 
prostrated before it, and all power in heaven and earth 
lodged with Him that sat on it. The day which from the 
beginning had been set apart to commemorate God's good- 
ness in creation was set aside, and that became the day of 
days which saw the incarnate God rise from the tomb in 
triumph over death and hell and sin. Oh how blind are 
those who see no glories in the cross of Christ, who can 
make light of what Heaven esteemed so highly, and rejoice 
more in farms, merchandise and pleasure than the unsearch- 
able treasures of grace ! Alas for impenitent men ! They 
walk in darkness ! The light which they have, conversant 
only about sense, is " like the funeral lamps which by the 
ancients were put into sepulchres to guard the ashes of their 
dead friends, which shine so long as they are kept close, a 
thick, moist vapour feeding them and rejiairing what was 
consumed ; but in opening the sepulchres and exposing them 
to the free air, they presently faint and expire." So, when- 
ever the minds of unbelievers are turned from the sensible 
to the supernatural and spiritual, their light goes out in 
darkness. Like the owls and bats, they riot in darkness and 
love the midnight gloom, but when the sun arises they find 
nothing congenial in his beams, and endeavour to screen 
their eyes from the glory of his light. Ah ! if our Gospel 
be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. If the preaching of 
the Cross be foolishness, it is foolishness to them that perish. 
Let the children of the night awake and leave this little 
scene of sense with its trifling gewgaws, and turn their eyes 
to the sublimer glories of that kingdom which shall never 
be moved. Let them come to the cross of Jesus and there 
learn things unutterable which God hath ])rcpared for them 
that love Him. The light of the Gospel now shines about 
us. Let us improve the day of our merciful visitation lest 



334 THE GOSPEL, GOD's POWER AND WISDOM. 

God in righteous vengeance should leave us to our spiritual 
darkness, which would be the certain presage of the black 
night of everlasting despair. The golden opportunities 
which we now possess if once lost are lost for ever : neither 
gold, nor tears, nor blood will prevail to buy them back, 
and we shall be compelled to lie down in sorrow with the 
doleful lamentation, "The harvest is past, the summer is 
ended, and we are not saved." 



PREFATOKY NOTE. 



This Discourse on the Personality of the Holy Spirit was delivered, so 
far as appears, only twice — the first time, in the College Chapel, December, 
1843 ; and the second time, at Charleston, in April, 1845. It has never 
before been published. The text was taken from Acts xix. 2. 

335 



THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY GHOST. 



rpHAT the standard of popular belief in regard to the 
-1- nature, office and operations of the Spirit falls far below 
the requisitions of the Scriptures is too painfully evident to 
be denied. The spirit of Festus, which brands with enthu- 
siasm every pretension to supernatural assistance, not only 
lingers in the world, but has found its way into the sacred 
enclosures of the Church. Such is the deplorable skepticism 
which prevails, especially among those who claim to be of 
the better sort, upon the whole subject of Divine influences, 
that many are afraid to expect them, others despise them, 
and multitudes, like the disciples of the Baptist at Ei)hesus, 
have not so much as heard that there is a Holy Ghost. He 
who refers his conversion to the special agency of God, and 
exhibits a becoming fervour of gratitude for the grace which 
he has felt — he who professes to believe by a Divine power, 
to see the truth in a Divine light, and to relish its beauty 
with a Divine affection, — will be mocked as an enthusiast and 
denounced as a visionary. The language of spiritual religion 
is regarded in any other light than as the words of truth and 
soberness. Convictions of sin are represented as the infir- 
mities of a melancholy temperament, the joys of faith are 
derided as expressions of physical excitement, and the confi- 
dence of hope is insulted as the dictate of spiritual pride. 
Now, if it should be found that those who are despised a.s 
rabid fanatics are really the children of God, and that what 
are regarded as their dreams of folly are really the sugges- 
tions of the Holy Ghost, the fastidious skeptics who denounce 
them would be involved in as awful a sin as the haughty 
Vol. II.-22 337 



338 THE PERSONALITY 

Pharisees who ascribed our Saviour's miracles to the finger 
of Beelzebub. If there be any one doctrine that may pre- 
eminently be styled the doctrine of the New Dispensation, it 
ig that concerning the Spirit The parting benediction of 
our Saviour was the promise, soon to be executed, that He 
would give to Plis disciples another Comforter, who should 
abide with them for ever, and who, by His rich consolations 
and copious instructions, would more than supply the place 
of their absent Redeemer. " It is, expedient for you," says 
He in the last interview which He held with His friends 
before the fatal tragedy of Calvary — " it is expedient for you 
that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not 
come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 
And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, of 
righteousness and of judgment." 

The times of the Gospel, in contradistinction from the 
period of the Law, are pronounced by the Apostle to be not 
only the ministration of the Spirit, but to be, on that account, 
transcendently glorious. " But if the ministration of death," 
says he, in evident allusion to the awful scenes which attended 
the ffivine; of the Decalogue — " if the ministration of death 
Avritten and engraven in stones was glorious, so that the 
children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of 
Moses for the glory of his countenance, w^hich glory was to 
be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit 
be rather glorious ? For if the ministration of condemnation 
be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness 
exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious 
had no glory in this respect by reason of the glory that ex- 
celleth. . For if that which is done away was glorious, much 
more that which remaineth is glorious." In every circum- 
stance of external splendour, in all that was adapted to please 
the eye or fascinate the ear — pomp of ritual, imposing decora- 
tions and majesty of forms — the Levitical economy was cer- 
tainly unrivalled either by the "gorgeous solemnities of 
Paganism " or the simple institutions of the Gospel. Des- 
pising, as it does, the tinsel of ceremony, the mystery of 



OF THE IIOI.Y GHOST. 339 

symbols, the ornaments of art and the aids of eloquence, in 
what does the glory of the Christian dispensation consist? 
How does it transcend a ministration in which the name and 
authority of God were displayed amid the sound of a trumpet 
and the voice of words, amid fire and thunder, blackness, dark- 
ness, tempest and smoke ? How does it surpass an economy 
adorned by visible symbols of the Deity, a cloud by day and 
a column of fire by night, the mercy-seat and cherubim, the 
altars and laver, the Urim and Thummim, and the special 
ministration of prophets? Our Saviour Himself answers 
the question, and the instructions of His Apostle fully con- 
form thereto ; it was the simplicity of truth and the power 
of the Spirit. These constitute the glory of these latter days. 
The magnificent truths of revelation are no longer shrouded 
in types and shadows, wrapped in mystery and contemplated 
only through a glass darkly, but God has revealed them 
unto us by His Spirit. He who commanded the light to 
shine out of darkness has shined into our hearts, and revealed 
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face 
of Jesus Christ. His throne of grace is no longer concealed 
under the elements of earth, to be approached only w^ith 
bleeding victims or smoking incense or eucharistic offerings, 
but it stands revealed in the light of day, accessible to all 
who are willing to approach in that living way which has 
been consecrated for us through the blood of the Lamb. It 
is evident, from repeated attestations of the Scriptures, that 
the whole powder of the Gospel lies in the demonstration of 
the Spirit. The simplicity of its truths, the solemnity of its 
sanctions and the overwhelming grandeur of the prospects 
which it opens are all ineffectual in reclaiming men from 
the sins, follies and vanities of time, so long as the Eternal 
Spirit " holdeth back the face of His throne and sprcadeth 
His cloud upon it." " Who then is Paul, and who is Apol- 
los, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord 
gave to every man?" He that planteth is nothing, he that 
watereth is nothing ; it is God alone who can give the in- 
crease. 



340 THE PERSONALITY 

The distiiigiiishing badge of the faithful followers of 
Christ, that by which they are known in heaven and recog- 
nized on earth as the sons of God and the heirs of everlasting 
life, is the possession of the Spirit. This is the stamp which 
is put upon the forehead — the evidence at once of their glo- 
rious adoption and of their consequent exemption from the 
penal visitations of wrath. When the Lord arises in the 
majesty of justice and makes terrific inquisition for blood, 
those who bear tliis mystical mark shall find protection in 
the secret of His tabernacle and be kept in His pavilion 
until the calamities are past. All their hopes, all their ac- 
complishments, their graces and their joys, their beauty and 
their strength, spring from their mysterious possession of the 
Spirit. Without Him they are poor and wretched, blind 
and naked, and destitute of all things. He is to them as 
refreshing showers to the thirsty earth. It is He who gives 
them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the 
garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is Christ, in 
the eyes of His redeemed, the chief among ten thousand 
and altogether lovely ? The same Spirit which framed His 
body in the virgin's womb has formed Him in them the 
Hope of glory, and joined them together in indissoluble 
bonds. Do they rejoice in the prospect of future felicity, 
and sigh for that inheritance M^hich is incorruptible, unde- 
filed and fadeth not away ? It is the Spirit of God that 
o-ives them an earnest, a refreshing foretaste, of that eternal 
weight of glory reserved for them at their Father's right 
hand. Do they, like Jacob, wrestle with God and cling to 
His promises with importunate fiiith? It is the Spirit that 
maketh intercessions for them with groanings that cannot be 
uttered. The Spirit first found them in their guilt and 
wretchedness, and reduced to order the chaos of their souls. 
He led them to the light of Christ. He it is who continually 
feeds them with the true manna whicli came down from 
heaven. He purifies their hearts, watches their sleeping 
dust in the grave, raises their bodies on the great day, and for 
ever abides in them as His consecrated temples. His chosen 



OF THE HOLY GHOST, o41 

and beloved habitations. To teach, to guide, to sanctify, to 
comfort — these are the healthful and saving offices whicli 
the Holy Ghost accomplishes in the hearts of all who believe ; 
and if we know not Him, if we are strangers to His grace 
and unacquainted with His power, we are involved in fearful 
darkness in relation to our highest and noblest interests. 
No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 

As the Spirit discharges such important functions in the 
economy of grace, it is intuitively obvious that our views of 
redemption must be essentially modified by the conceptions 
which we form of the nature and operations of the Holy 
Ghost. If we detract from the glory of His work, we shall 
proportionably detract from the fullness of salvation. Most 
of the errors which have infested the peace and corrupted 
the purity of the Christian Church have arisen, in the first 
place, from mistaken apprehensions of those special points 
in the scheme of salvation in which it comes directly in con- 
tact with the hearts of men. Pelagianism is clearly a sin 
against the Spirit. In the same proportion in which it mag- 
nifies the powers of man, it debases the riches of Divine 
grace. Socinianism springs as much from defective views 
of the moral government of God and the consequent mean- 
ness, sinfulness and wretchedness of man, as from those per- 
verse speculations which the Apostle denounces as philoso])hy 
and vain deceit. To have correct apprehensions of the 
Divine law, the beauty of holiness and the immutiibility of 
moral distinctions — to admit the moral necessity of visiting 
disobedience with tokens of displeasure — to admit, at the 
same time, the extent of human guilt and the depth and 
malignity of human depravity and sin — is to admit a scries 
of propositions which necessarily involve the Divinity of 
Christ, or deny the possibility that God can be just and yet 
receive into favour the fallen sons of men. Let the Holy 
Spirit reveal the Law to the understanding and the conscience 
in its purity, strictness and extent ; let the inflexible integrity 
of Jehovah be distinctly apprehended and the measure of 
our iniquities clearly displayed to our view, and no power 



342 THE PERSONALITY 

of sophistry, no magic of eloquence, no artful delusions of 
the Devil, shall be able to convince us that any other Saviour 
can be suited to our need but one who can thunder with a 
voice like God, who can bear the keys of heaven and hell, 
who can shut and none can open, and can open and none 
can shut. All forms of heresy, skepticism and will-worship, 
the dreams of the formalist, the pride of the Pelagian and 
the presumption of the Socinian, will assuredly be dispelled 
by the mysterious operations of that Spirit whose office it is 
to take of the things of Christ and show them unto men. 
To be right, consequently, in the doctrine of the Spirit is to 
be right upon every other point ; to be wrong here is to 
walk in darkness, or, what is worse, to walk in the light of 
our own eyes and after the imaginations of our own hearts. 
Let us have the Spirit, and He will assuredly conduct us to 
Christ, and Christ will conduct us to God. Let us be devoid 
of the Spirit, and however seemly our conduct or orthodox 
our creed, we are children of hell, bearing the image of the 
wicked one, enemies of God and destroyers of ourselves. It 
is, in the emphatic language of inspiration, to be earthly, 
sensual, devilish. 

The doctrine of the Trinity is so evidently involved in the 
scheme of redemption that it is morally impossible to deny 
the one without denying the other. The most satisftictory 
proof of the essential unity and personal distinctions of the 
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost is to be found in the 
offices which each discharges in the economy of grace. If 
not a single passage existed in the Scriptures directly estab- 
lishing this mysterious truth of revelation, it might be col- 
lected as a necessary inference from the moral appearances 
which we are called to contemplate in the plan of salvation. 
The same principle of ratiocination by which we establish 
the Being of God from the operation of His hands, the 
natural disposition to ascend from effects to the causes which 
produce them — to follow a stream until we reach the fountain 
by which it is supplied — will also lead us from the phenomena 
of grace to acknowledge three agents of unlimited perlections, 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 343 

essentially the same and yet distincL As the heavens declare 
the glory of God, and the firnianient showeth His handi- 
work, as the invisible things of Him arc clearly seen, being 
understood by the things that are made, so the purpose, 
execution and accomplishment of that wonderful method by 
which the guilty are accepted, the dead are quickened and 
the ruined saved, reveal, clearly as any eifect can disclose its 
cause, the separate, distinct and harmonious operations of the 
Triune God. 

The evidence, perhaps, upon which the large majority of 
Christians receive this article of faith is the spiritual expe- 
rience of their own hearts. They have not studied isolated 
texts nor collected together the names, titles and achieve- 
ments which are promiscuously ascribed to each of the Per- 
sons of the Godhead ; but they have been conscious of their 
own moral necessities — they have admired the beauty and 
rejoiced in the fitness of those exquisite arrangements by 
which their need has been relieved. They know, because 
they have felt, the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, 
and the communion of the Holy S[)irit. Their minds are 
established in the truth, because they distinctly perceive that 
however unsearchable and mysterious the doctrine of the 
Trinity may be, it is a doctrine which is obliged to be true. 
The phenomena of grace demand it. They can no mon; 
permit themselves to doubt it than call into question the 
reality of their daily food, or deny the separate existence of 
external objects as the causes of the constant changes which 
they experience in the history of their own minds. Inge- 
nuity may torture, and, under the pretext of profound inter- 
pretation, explain away detached and isolated texts; the 
dexterity of criticism may perplex with unreasonable doubts 
or confound wath learned plausibilities the minds of the 
simple and illiterate ; and the subtlety of logical skill may 
raise such a cloud of dust that language shall appear like a 
riddle and truth be lost in the distinctions of sojihistry ; but 
the aroument from experience, from the indisputable wants 
of our own nature and the provisions which alone can be 



344 THE PEESONALITY 

adequate to meet them, is clear as consciousness, palpable as 
sense and irresistible as liglit. The speculations of phi- 
losophy may find insurmountable difficulties in this and 
every other mystery of the Gospel, for who by searching 
can find out God ? But the measures of antecedent proba- 
bility are not the standard by which we should judge either 
of the facts of nature or the more wonderful provisions of 
grace. The essence and personality of God can never be 
degraded to the limited capacities of man. To divest the 
Trinity of the awful mystery which enslu'ouds it, to remove 
the veil which conceals from mortal eyes the august and 
glorious Being whose majesty is as terrible as His mystery 
is profound, would be to depress the inconceivable sublimity 
and contract the illimitable grandeur of His nature. We 
are permitted to know of God only what can be gathered 
from the faint adumbrations of His character in the diver- 
sified departments of creation, or what has been displayed 
with greater brilliancy in the stupendous economy of grace. 
Redemption, as a grand whole, a magnificent moral phe- 
nomenon, a sublime evolution in the righteous government 
of God, reveals the perfections of its Author with a degree 
of splendour which completely eclipses the brightest dis- 
coveries of nature. While the Jews look for a sign and the 
Greeks seek after wisdom, " we," says the Apostle, " preach 
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the 
Greeks foolishness, but to them which are called, Christ the 
power of Qod and the wisdom of God." We, in other 
words, develop the overwhelming scheme of redemption, 
which, however neglected, insulted or despised by the miser- 
able votaries of sense, displays to the illuminated eye of 
faith, in the depths of its wisdom, the resources of its power 
and the exhaustless riches of its grace, the glory of God in a 
light which the most portentous signs from heaven or the 
deepest investigations of learning and philosophy can never 
be adequate to compass. xVs the stars hide their diminished 
heads when the sun emerges from his chamber to run hit? 
career in the heavens, so all the discoveries of God which 



OF THE HOLY GHOST, 345* 

nature and Providence are competent to make fade into 
comparative insignificance before the transcendent disclosures 
of redemption. Tliat scheme stands like a temple of majestic 
proportions, and bears visibly engraved upon its portals, 
not only the name of God, like the ancient temple of Isis, 
but also the subliiner mystery of His personal distinctions. 
In walking about Zion, telling her towers and marking well 
her bulwarks, we perceive the hand of the Father, the hand 
of the Son and the hand of the Holy Ghost. There are 
palaces adorned for the great King which we are exhorted 
to consider, for there the Trinity reigns, there God displays 
His mysterious personality, and the whole house is filled 
with His glory. 

It is a melancholy fact, however, even among those who 
admit, in general terms, the doctrine of the Trinity, that in 
consequence of their low views of the operations of grace, 
the distinct personality of the Spirit is practically denied. 

That experience which does not recognize the supernatural 
character of the work which we attribute to the Spirit, as 
well as the necessity that it should have been accomplished 
by an intelligent, voluntary agent, falls below the measure 
of the Scriptures. We may in words profess to receive the 
operations of the Spirit, but it is only an empty declaration 
if we do not feel that influences have been exerted on us — 
our ovvu hearts, understandings and consciences — that could 
not possibly have been eifected without the agency of a 
glorious and extraordinary Person. We must have experi- 
mental evidence, the witness within ourselves, that the 
Author of our faith, our hopes and our joys is a living Per- 
son, abundant in goodness, rich in grace and unlimited in 
knowledoe. Such are the relations of the Spirit to the un- 
derstand ings and consciences of men in applying the great 
salvation of the Gospel that it seems to be impossible that 
His office should ever be discharged in the mind of a sinner 
without producing a consciousness of the extraordinary 
chanu-e which has been effected, and a consequent imi)rcssion 
of the distinct personality of the agent by whom it was 



346 THE PERSONALITY 

wrought. Wherever He dwells there must be displays of 
His glory and power. No heart can become His abiding 
habitation without adoring His goodness and resjjonding to 
His love. We should question, without hesitation, the piety 
of any man who should refuse to admit the personality of 
the Father or the distinct subsistence of the Son. There are 
peculiar offices accomplished by each, peculiar relations in 
which they stand to us, and consequently peculiar aifections 
which are due to each that cannot possibly be conceived upon 
any hypothesis that blends the Father and the Son into one 
personal subsistence. The idea of mediation becomes absurd, 
the whole doctrine of atonement dwindles down into un- 
meaning jargon, if the Son be not a separate agent from the 
Father. That religion which consists in the worship of the 
Father through the Son — in access to God through the 
atoning blood of His own beloved Son — becomes an enigma, 
a riddle, an inexplicable mystery, if Father and Son are only 
different names for precisely the same Almighty Being. If, 
then, Ave should brand as a dark and dangerous delusion any 
scheme of securing salvation which did not proceed upon 
distinct offices, and consequently the acknowledgment of a 
distinct personality in the first two persons of the adorable 
Trinity, how can it be safe to admit a doctrine of Divine 
influences which does not leave upon the mind clear and 
manifest impressions of the personality of the Holy Ghost? 
Is the glory of the Third Person less to be promoted than 
that of the First and Second? Must He not have the 
honour of His own work? And is it possible that men can 
ascribe to Him the glory due unto His name unless they are 
conscious of His hand in the work which He is said to per- 
form — unless they know that it is His influences which their 
hearts have felt in submitting to the righteousness of God, 
and receiving that record which He hath given of His Son ? 
It is intuitively obvious that as the very essence of religious 
worship consists in the inward affections of confidence, love, 
joy and hope directed to the persons of the glorious God- 
head, the Holy Spirit, wherever He leaves the impressions 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 347 

of His grace and reveals the knowledge of the Father and 
the Son, must at the same time record His own name. 
How, otherwise, could He be the object of adoration, grati- 
tude and praise ? Can there be communion with a Being 
of whose personal and separate subsistence there is not a 
distinct apprehension ? 

It requires but little sagacity to perceive that the person- 
ality of the Spirit is consistent with no views of His influ- 
ences that fail to present the supernatural character of faith. 
The theory of the formalist admits, in general terms, that no 
man is able to call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost ; but 
it so connects the operations of the Spirit and the efficacy of 
grace with instruments and means as to make the result as 
much a matter of natural conset|uenco as the success of the 
husbandman, merchant or mechanic. It is possi1>lc to ac- 
knowledge that Paul may plant and Apollos water, l)ut that 
all will be in vain unless God give the increase, and yet to 
suppose, at the same time, that the blessing of the Almighty 
is so inseparably conjoined with industry, zeal and diligence 
in the use of proper appliances as that success shall attend 
our efforts in religion with the same unvarying uniformity 
with wdiich the phenomena of nature result from its estab- 
lished laws. We may make a course of grace in which one 
spiritual event shall succeed another with the same regularity 
and order as the changes around us observe in the constitu- 
tion and appointments of nature. What, in fact, is usually 
denominated the course of nature is nothing but the uniform 
succession of events — the same antecedents being invariably 
connected with the same consequents. The laws of nature 
are only compendious expressions for uniformity and order 
in the phenomena around us, and what I understand by 
natural consequence is the conjunction which we learn from 
experience between a physical cause and its effect, from 
which we can confidently predict that the effect will invaria- 
bly follow the cause, or that the cause will invariably j)re- 
cede the effect. All the results of mechanism take place, 
obviously, in the way of natural consequence. The material 



348 THE PERSONALITY 

elements which compose the machine are so combined and 
arranged, antecedents are so determined and adjusted, that 
the invariable consequents must be the ends which we pro- 
pose to accomplish. We simply avail ourselves, in other 
words, by mechanical arrangements of the known operations 
of natural laws to compass the objects which we have in 
view. The telescope, for instance, is simply particles of 
matter of such properties and so arranged as to be suited 
precisely to the refraction of light, so that through the opera- 
tion of that law it can approximate what is remote and in- 
crease its apparent magnitude. That, therefore, is natural 
which uniformly happens under the same conditions — which 
takes place in conformity with fixed and invariable laws, 
and in regard to which the experience of the past is a certain 
index of the future. If, now, there be an order established 
in the system of grace in obedience to which faith is produced 
as a natural consequence, the personality of the Spirit is just 
as completely excluded as in the results of machinery or the 
common phenomena of nature. It is true that just concep- 
tions of cause and effect must ultimately lead us to the Su- 
preme Mind as the only source of efficiency and power. The 
works of nature in all the departments of matter and mind, 
the changes and vicissitudes which are constantly occurring 
wdthin us and around us — whatsoever is, has been or will be 
— are only a chain of effects connected together in the order 
of time, of which no satisfactory account can be given until 
we ascend to the Will of the Almighty. There is the seat 
of power ; the laws of nature possess no efficiency in them- 
selves : they are simply uniform effects which the agency of 
God calls into being. The results of machinery, therefore, 
are as truly produced by the power of God as the creation 
of the world, the establishment of its order and the govern- 
ment of its affairs. No canvas can swell in the breeze, no 
water-wheel can be turned by a stream, the sun must fail to 
rise, seed-time and harvest must disappear from the earth, the 
variety of the seasons and the succession of plants and ani- 
mals must all be arrested, unless there be an actual concur- 



OF THE UOI.Y GHOST. 349 

renoe of God in every event that occurs within the limits of 
His empire. Without His will not a sparrow falls nor a 
flower blooms ; so that in a sense widely removed from that 
refined and specious Atheism which identifies God with the 
operations of His hands, the sublime inscription upon the 
temple of Isis, the fabled mother of nature — " I am whatso- 
ever is, whatsoever has been and whatsoever shall be" — may 
be applied to the real Father of the universe in full consist- 
ency with truth. Divine influences, accordingly, must be 
acknowledged in })urely meclianical operations. Those 
etfects which are produced in regular and established order 
are just as truly the works of the Almighty as signs, wonders 
and miraculous achievements. But Avhen events occur in 
accordance with a fixed constitution, the very regularity of 
the series excludes from our view the immediate agency of 
God. Our attention is confined to the phenomena them- 
selves ; the constitution of our nature leads us to expect that 
the future will resemble the past; and the fact that this 
inborn instinct is gratified in the actual appearances around 
us represses curiosity, or stimulates our efforts only in arrang- 
ing and collecting the results of past observation to serve as 
a guide in making calculations for the future and subduing 
nature to our purposes of interest and convenience. Hence 
it is that miracles which interrujit the order of natural 
sequences and consequently disappoint our natural expecta- 
tions are such signal proofs of the prcs(;nce of God. The 
birth of man is an event which requires no less an exertion 
of Divine power than his resurrection from the dead ; and 
yet a thousand births may take place about us without excit- 
ino- one thought of God, while no one could raise the dead 
before us without creating th(^ iini)r('ssion that he was a spe- 
cial messenger of God. Whatever coincides with an estab- 
lished order is regarded as a matter of course. It is some- 
thing that we expect. Our natural instinct has the same 
effect in regard to such phenomena as familiarity, and it 
requires a deep infusion of the spirit of religion as well as 
the spirit of philosophy to see God in the lilies of the field, 



350 THE PERSONALITY 

the fowls of the air, the succession of the seasons and the 
ordinary occurrences of life. 

It is evident, then, that the only way in which the person- 
ality of the Spirit can be immediately and directly recognized 
in the production of faith is to make it a supernatural endow- 
ment. To establish an oi-der in conformity with which the 
grace of God is imparted to the soul is to treat the opera- 
tions of the Spirit as purely mechanical. Upon this theory 
Divine influences are no more conspicuous in the new birth, 
the illumination of the mind and the sanctification of the 
heart, than in our natural generation, the growth of our 
bodies, the development of our faculties and the daily busi- 
ness of life. It is not enough to say in general terms that 
the Spirit is the author of faith — there must be something 
in the mode of its production that shall infallibly impress 
upon the mind the intuitive conviction that a voluntary 
agent is the cause of the phenomenon. 

Hence the operations of the Spirit, in communicating 
spiritual life, must be analogous to those exercises of power 
by which miracles are wrought, and not to that method of 
operation which sustains the fabric of nature. Any system 
of religion, therefore, which teaches us to look for the bless- 
ing of God only in the way of natural consequence ; which 
regards it as a thing of course when the proper instruments 
have been put in requisition ; whatever else it may be called, 
has no pretensions to be treated as spiritual and Divine. If 
it acknowledges the Spirit at all, it is in such a sort as to 
involve a practical denial of His free, sovereign and personal 
agency. His will — and the essence of personality is sup- 
posed by many to consist in will — His will is not made the 
standard of gracious expectation, but our own industry and 
diligence in bending to our purposes the institutions and 
appointments of the Gospel. What are usually denominated 
the means of grace are presented in this theory in the aspect 
of laws, and the Spirit accordingly is nothing more than the 
invisible means — the Divine influence or the concealed deter- 
mination of the Divine will — which connects the spiritual 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 351 

cause with its eiFect, the antecedent with its consequent, a 
proper application of means with the regeneration of the 
heart. The conversion of the soul is a process of spiritual 
mechanism brought about upon precisely the same principles 
of natural sequence as the construction of a telescope, the 
arrangement of a watch or the erection of a loom. The 
inevitable consequence is that conversion is just as much an 
achievement of our own as any of the natural operations 
which we daily perform. 

It is intuitively evident, however, that the tendency of a 
fixed constitution to veil the personality of God can only be 
developed where the laws which regulate the succession of 
events are capable of being known and ascertained by us. The 
difficulty does not lie in the fact that order is observed, but 
in the fact that the order is hnowii. In such cases the antece- 
dents themselves, apart from all reference to God, are regarded 
as the real causes of the effects which ensue, and the Hand 
accordingly which governs and directs all the movements of 
nature is concealed from our view. Hence, God manifests 
His wisdom as well as His glory in so conducting the dispen- 
sations of His providence as that many of its most remarkable 
events shall appear to be fortuitous. The birth of individuals, 
the period of their death, that tide in their affairs which deter- 
mines their destiny, though unquestionably parts of a scheme 
as uniform and regular as that course of nature which we are 
capable of tracing, are yet concealed in all but their proxi- 
mate causes ; and no satisfactory reason can be assigned why 
Hannibal was not a citizen of Rome and Alexander a hero 
of the nineteenth century. This large infusion of " chance" 
in the moral administration of the world is suited to operate 
as a check upon the obvious tendency to Atheism which a 
known constitution is fitted to produce. The mind is called 
oif from the mere contemplation of physical causes to that 
sovereign Will which orders all things in heaven above and 
in the earth beneath. Fortuitous events are so many monu- 
ments of the Divine personality, so many memorials of God 
in the midst of a scene in which we are too prone to forget 



352 THE PERSONALITY 

Him. We may lament the proclivity of our minds to ovi^r- 
look the Author of Nature where we are capable of tracing 
the succession of its phenomena — we may denounce it as a 
signal proof of the depravity of our hearts and the perverse- 
ness of our will — but the fact is unquestionable. And hence 
the supremacy of the Spirit and the absolute sovereignty of 
His will must cease to be necessary elements of religious 
experience upon any hypothesis of grace which does not 
recognize a direct, immediate, intuitive perception of Divine 
operations. To establish a cowrsfi q/" ^^race at all. analogous 
to that we are accustomed to denominate the constitution of 
nature is to divert our attention from the agency and effi- 
ciency of the Holy Ghost, and to fix our hopes upon that 
series of subordinate antecedents which are supposed to be 
invariably attended with the results v/hich we are anxi(jus to 
secure. If reading, meditation and prayer, together with a 
diligent attention to all the other appointments of the Gos- 
pel, be recommended as standing in the same relation to 
faith in which industry, economy and prudence stand to 
success in the ordinary business of life, there is unquestion- 
ably in the nature of religious experience no more recogni- 
tion of the hand and sovereignty of God than in the usual 
transactions of the world. A man, in other words, in con- 
sistency with this hypothesis, may be truly converted and 
yet be totally unmindful of any peculiar grace, power or 
mercy on the part of the Almighty. His hopes and expect- 
ations are all placed upon the means which He employs ; 
and the ground of his confidence is the conviction, whether 
true or false, that these means are certainly connected with 
the ends which He proposes to secure. The planter who 
deposits his seed in the ground founds his expectations of 
a crop not upon the interpositions of God, but upon the fer- 
tility of the soil and the skill of his culture. The mechanic 
who erects a loom arranges all his materials with reference 
to the laws of motion, and never once thinks of the agency 
of the Supreme Being. He adjusts his antecedents, and 
takes it for granted that the usual consequents must follow. 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 353 

Now, if the means of grace are really and truly laws of 
grace, there may be just as much practical atheism among 
the redeemed as among successful planters and mechanics. 
Accordingly, we find, in fact, that those who take low views 
of gracious operations are accustomed to maintain that we are 
not directly conscious of the possession of the Spirit. It is 
a fact which they suppose that we gather in the same way 
of philosophical analysis or necessary inference by which we 
recognize the power of God in the succession of the seasons 
or any of the beautiful arrangements of Providence. We 
compare, according to their statement of the matter, what we 
have felt and experienced with the declarations of the Word, 
and if we find that the spiritual phenomena of which we 
have been conscious are such as are there attributed to the 
agency of the Spirit, we are authorized to believe that we 
are taught of God, although our impressions themselves 
in their own nature would never have led us to look for 
an extraordinary or supernatural cause. Our experience 
itself would not have awakened the suspicion of Divine 
influence if we had not been previously informed by the 
Scriptures that all religious affections proceed from God ; 
we are so clearly capable of tracing the process by which 
our impressions have been produced in the secret, silent and 
imperceptible influence of reading, meditation and prayer 
that we should never have dreamed that any external cause 
was at work if we had no other evidence of the fact than the 
consciousness of what has been passing within. The Bible, 
such persons will inform you, is written in the language 
of men, it is adapted to mortal comprehension, and they 
can perceive no substantial reason, either in the bliudneas 
of man or the mystery of the subject, why the coherence 
and connection of its parts, the meaning and dependence of 
its various propositions, may not be mastered by the same 
sort of diligence by which we master the visions of poetry 
or the speculations of philosophy. The Divine authority of 
the Scriptures rests, they will tell you, upon historical and 
internal evidences which are capable of being understood 
Vol. II.— 23 



354 THE PERSONALITY 

and appreciated by all who are able to reason ; and when 
the disclosures of revelation are once received as truth, there 
is nothing more strange and wonderful in the effects which 
they produce than in the operations of any other truth. 
Such is the power of its motives, the solemnity of its sanc- 
tions and the fervour of its appeals that it is invariably 
followed in all who attend to it by results similar to those 
achieved by the orator or poet. Hence, we are conscious 
of no more grace in receiving the instructions of the Bible 
than in understanding the writings of Cicero or Plato. 

Now, if the scheme of redemption has been so arranged 
as to produce in the experience of the faithful a full con- 
viction of the personality of God, this hypothesis of grace, 
however ingenious or plausible, must be false. So far as 
the Holy Ghost is concerned, the economy of salvation 
according to this view is as dumb as nature, and every 
believer might justly exclaim, in the language of the Ephe- 
sian disciples of the Baptist, " We have not so much as heard 
whether there be a Holy Ghost." That stupendous change 
which the Scriptures everywhere illustrate by the analogies 
of creation and resurrection from the dead is reduced to a 
natural process. Conversion is brought within the compe- 
tency of man. He can regenerate his heart by employing 
the proper means just as really and truly as he can raise 
enormous weights far transcending his physical abilities by 
pulleys and steam. There are laws by which he can avail 
himself of the power of God in the department of grace 
as well as in the department of nature — a moral machinery 
as potent in spiritual results as natural machinery in material 
effects. The solemn assertion of the Apostle, " It is not of 
him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that 
showeth mercy," becomes palpably false, and the true state- 
ment is that, Whoever will employ the antecedents which 
are placed before him in the means of grace will assuredly 
find that faith, holiness and love will follow as the natural 
and uniform effects. 

There cannot be a more overwhelming condemnation of 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 355 

these mechanical operations of the Spirit than is furnished 
by Paul in the memorable text : " The Spirit itself beareth 
witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." 
How can there be a testimony of the Spirit separate and 
distinct from the testimony of our own hearts if, after all, we 
know the presence of the Spirit only from the effects which 
He impresses upon us ? How can a witness assure us of a 
fact when we do not hnow that the witness is speaking ? If 
Paul does not proceed on the assumption that we are con- 
scious of the personal presence of the Holy Ghost, language 
may cease to be employed as a vehicle of thought. The 
complete reversion of this text by those who deny super- 
natural influences is a humiliating instance of the stubborn 
reluctance of man to prostrate his pride of understanding 
before the authority of God. The Spirit, according to the 
Apostle, bears witness to us that we are the children of 
God. That we are the children of God, according to the 
common exposition, is the only proof which we can have 
that we really possess the Spirit. So that we make Paul's 
proof our question, and his question our proof. 

To the train of argument which 1 have attempted to 
develop it may be, and perhaps plausibly, objected that 
because the means of grace are denied to possess the efficacy 
of laws, therefore they are rendered useless and nugatory. 
Such miserable skeptics might be asked what idea our 
Saviour probably intended to convey when He assured His 
disciples that the first should be the last and the last first. 
Can there be uniformity in a kingdom where the laws of 
its proceedings are frequently reversed ? 

To say nothing of the repeated instances in which the 
blessings of the Gospel were evidently dispensed without 
the least reference to personal qualifications or previous 
preparation — a fact inconsistent with the theory of an uni- 
form method, and consequently of laws in the kingdom of 
grace — the means of grace have a clear and definite use 
which would be entirely defeated by making them equiv.;- 
lent to laws. Their end is not to impart grace, but to 



856 THE PERSONALITY 

remind us of our dependence upon the Spirit. They are 
not channels through which the waters of salvation are con- 
ducted to our hearts ; they are rather the chambers or pal- 
aces in which we meet with the King Himself, and transact 
our affairs in His immediate presence. Reading, for exam- 
ple, has no necessary tendency to ingenerate Divine and 
supernatural faith. On the contrary, it shows the darkness 
of the mind and the hardness of the heart, just as a picture 
spread out before a blind man forcil)ly reminds him of his 
defect of vision. A sense of need is consequently awak- 
ened, which directs attention to a living agent by whose 
benevolence and j)ower our wants may be relieved. Prayer 
Ls only an outward expression of that conviction of indi- 
gence and weakness which leads us off from the resources 
of the creature to the will of the Almighty. Hence, any 
proper view of the means of grace prevents us from attribut- 
ing the least degree of efficacy to them. They do their 
office when they have convinced us that there is no help in 
man, and prostrate our hearts before the throne of God 
in entire dependence upon the will and grace of His 
Holy Spirit. 

Now, if the ultimate end of these Divine institutions be 
to produce a conviction of need, so far is their use from 
being inconsistent with the personality of the Spirit, that 
they confirm and establish it. He wdio has tried them finds 
them to be empty and dead, incapable of supplying his 
wants, and consequently worthless as his ultimate depend- 
ences. He must, of course, look beyond them, and what- 
ever comfort he receives must be attributed to the agency 
or influence of an external cause. They conduct him 
directly to the Spirit. To that august and glorious agent 
he presents himself burdened with the load of his sins 
and overpowered with a sense of his blindness, and he 
feels that nothing can relieve him but the grace, power 
and will of the Holy Ghost. They teach him his need of 
personal interference, and through them that condition of 
the soul is produced in which a manifestation of the loving- 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 357 

kindness of the Lord shall be acknowledged as a direct and 
immediate interposition of God. Hence, to depend upon 
the means of grace, which we would be authorized to do if 
they were laws, is completely to destroy their legitimate tend- 
ency and render them worse than useless. They should 
only be employed as the way to the Spirit, as the galleries 
in which His glory will be manifested, as the instruments 
by which we are reminded that our help is in God. When 
properly employed they are most forgotten when most earn- 
estly used ; the eye is fixed exclusively on the Spirit. 

Our vindication of supernatural grace will perhaps be 
complete if it can be shown that in avoiding the extreme 
of a dead and spiritless formality we are not necessarily 
exposed to the extravagant follies of a rabid enthusiasm. 
The fact, however, that this accusation is so repeatedly urged 
against those who maintain the personality of the Spirit as 
an essential element of Christian experience is a strong pre- 
sumption that their doctrine is substantially the same as 
that of the illustrious Apostle of the Gentiles. When Paul 
related the astonishing history of his conversion before the 
Roman judges, Festus said with a loud voice, " Paul, thou 
art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." 
The governor did not mean to charge the Apostle with 
actual insanity, or that melancholy derangement of the mind 
in which all its powers are confounded and the distinctions 
of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong, are neither felt 
nor perceived. He rather looked upon his prisoner as 
deluded, as a dupe to his own imagination, mistaking the 
visions of fancy for the realities of fact. There is nothing 
strange in attributing such madness to excessive learning. 
The profound and solitary studies of Democritus exposed 
him to a similar imputation among his stupid countrymen 
of Abdera, from Avhich, as the story goes, he was eloquently 
defended by his friend, Hippocrates. As Festus could not 
bring himself to believe the marvellous narrative which the 
Apostle had just given of his sudden conversion to the 
Christian faith by the innnediate agency of God, and as the 



358 THE PERSONALITY 

evident sincerity of Paul's convictions, the depth of hia 
feelings, the fervour of liis manner, his disinterested labours 
and extraordinary sufferings in behalf cf Christianity 
evinced an honesty of heart and simplicity of purpose 
wholly incompatible with the supposition of imposture, 
no alternative was left but to treat the whole matter as a 
strong delusion. Paul was accordingly dismissed as a vis- 
ionary, though in the great day it will be found, to the con- 
sternation and dismay of all Pharisees, formalists and 
hypocrites, that such enthusiasm was the real production 
of the Spirit, the words of truth and soberness. 

The charge of enthusiasm which we find upon the lips of Fes- 
tus, and which has since been repeated by a thousand tongues, 
is, from the vagueness and ambiguity of the term, admirably 
adapted to the purposes of scandal. In ancient times the 
word seems to have been used in three dilferent applications. 
It was first employed to denote that ecstasy of the Sibyls, 
Priests, and Prophets, in which the powers of the mind and 
the organs of the body were under the complete control of 
the inspiring god. This sort of enthusiasm is what Cicero 
calls divination. It was next applied to those strong and 
vehement conceptions of an excited imagination in which the 
balance of the soul was disturbed and the distinctions of 
vision and reality destroyed. This species of enthusiasm 
was, among the people, as also among some of the philoso- 
phers, ascribed to the agency of the gods, and hence it re- 
ceived the same general name with prophetic inspiration. 
The third sense in which we find the term employed by the 
ancient writers is in reference to the extraordinary achieve- 
ments of genius and learning. As those effects of the orator, 
the poet, and the philosopher which were distinguished by 
unusual ability and fervour were ascribed to supernatural 
assistance, they were likewise embraced under the general 
head of enthusiasm. Hence, it would appear that enthusiasm^ 
or madness, among the ancients was a term invented to denote 
the cause of a large class of phenomena, which, as they could 
not be explained upon the established principles of mind and 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 359 

matter, were referred to Divine interposition. The inspira- 
tion of the Sibyl, the dreams of the visionary, and the sub- 
lime effusions of the poet or the orator had nothing in com- 
mon but the extraordinary impulses with which they were 
attended, and they received a common appellation only in 
consequence of the vulgar apprehension that they all pro- 
ceeded from the gods. 

As employed in modern times to cast reproach upon the 
gracious operations of the Spirit, the term may imply either 
diabolical possession or fanatical delusion. The fundamental 
idea conveyed is that all pretensions to supernatural assist- 
ance are extravagant and wicked, proceeding either from the 
craft of an impostor, the excitement of the passions or the 
artful suggestions of the tempter. The leading assumption, 
upon which alone any plausibility can be given to the charge, 
is that the Divine illumination, which is made essential to 
the reality of faith, is philosophically absurd. It is supposed 
to be impossible that we can be conscious of the immediate 
agency of God. To say nothing of the numerous and pointed 
declarations of the Scriptures which directly teach that faith 
is an extraordinary gift of the Spirit, the fact that Proi)hets 
and Apostles must have known that their minds were pos- 
sessed of the Holy Ghost is conclusive proof that there may 
be manifestations of the Spirit which are accompanied with 
intuitive convictions of His presence. "We have no reason to 
believe that the holy men of old, who spake as they were 
moved by the Holy Ghost, were left to deduce their own 
inspiration from the miracles which they found themselves 
capable of working. It is not for us to say in what way the 
prophetic impulse indicated its Author. It is certain, how- 
ever, that there must have been such impressions of the 
Divine goodness, glory, knowledge and power made upon 
their minds as rendered it impossible to doubt, antecedently 
to any external signs of their supernatural commission, that 
the Lord was with them. In some way they felt His pres- 
ence and knew Him to be there as certainly as any natural 
phenomenon is ascertained by the senses. To say that God 



360 THE PERSONALITY 

cannot communicate an intuitive conviction of His presence 
to the mind is not only to deny that Prophets and Apostles 
were directly conscious of their own inspiration, but boldly 
and presumptuously to limit the Holy One of Israel. No 
good reason can be given why an immediate revelation of 
Himself is not as possible and easy as an indirect manifesta- 
tion of His glory through the wonderful works which He 
has made. The fact, therefore, that the doctrine of super- 
natural illumination involves an immediate conviction of 
the presence of the Spirit is no necessary presumption against 
its truth. 

I do not mean to insinuate, however, that the Divine 
illumination which is the only cause of supernatural faith 
is, by any means, identical with prophetic inspiration. 
There is certainly a vast difference betwixt imparting origi- 
nal revelations, and enabling the understanding to perceive 
the impressions of Divine glory in a revelation already com- 
municated. But He who, in the one case, can manifest His 
presence so as to silence doubt and generate conviction, can 
also do it in the other. 

That to make faith depend upon Divine and supernatural 
illumination is virtually to make it a new endowment of the 
soul is no valid objection to the truth of the doctrine. There 
are unquestionably original powers by which, in reference to 
every department of knowledge, we are enabled to distinguish 
the fictitious from the real, the true from the false. In a 
sound condition of the senses, phantasms are never confounded 
with material impressions ; we readily discriminate betwixt 
existing objects and the creatures of fancy. So also in mat- 
ters of science we I'ise by degrees from intuitive perceptions 
to legitimate deductions, keeping a steady hold of truth by 
means of judgment and reasoning. What sense is to matter, 
what intuition and reasoning are to science, faith is to super- 
natural revelation. It is a gracious faculty by which we 
recognize spiritual truth, trace the impressions of Divinity 
upon the disclosures of the Gospel and behold the glory of 
God in the face of Jesus Christ. As the measure of faith is 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 361 

the testimony of God, it may be defined as a supernatural 
perception of the reality and glory of that testimony. Our 
Saviour, accordingly, teaches that in the spiritual appre- 
hension of the Gospel the flesh, or the natural understanding, 
profiteth nothing. There must be an evidence, or, as the 
Apostle styles it, a powerful demonstration of the Spirit, 
which genius, industry and learning are utterly inadequate 
to comj)ass, and which produces conviction by its own irre- 
sistible light. If the Scriptures are indeed the Word of 
God, the traces of His character must be indelibly stamped 
upon them, their doctrines must reflect His glory, aud the 
whole scheme which they are intended to develop must 
bear His name visibly engraved upon it. Now the Spirit, 
in the production of supernatural faith, shines into the heart 
and reveals a light by which we are enabled to perceive the 
Divinity and feel the efficacy of the mysterious truths of the 
Gospel. Hence, from the very nature of the case, faith must 
become an extraordinary gift — a new faculty of the soul 
directly conversant with spiritual trutli, distinguishing the 
true from the false, answering to perception in matters of 
sense, to intuition in matters of reasoning, and to demonstra- 
tion in matters of science. It is the eye of the spiritual 
man by which he beholds the things of God, and as sense 
and intuition carry their own evidence along with them, so 
faith is justified by its own light. 

To maintain such an intuitive perception of the reality 
and excellence of spiritual truth is generally supposed to be 
fatal to the interests of sobriety and order by opening a wide 
door for extravagant delusions and fanatical excesses. Every 
dreamer, it is said, may receive the ravings of a frantic 
imagination as the genuine impulses of the Spirit of God. 
This is nothing more than to say that Faith, like every other 
faculty of our nature, is capable of being abused ; and as in 
every other case the existence of counterfeits is generally 
regarded as a presumption that an original exists of which 
the counterfeit is only an imitation — as hypocrisy itself, in 
conformity with the famous aphorism, is an indirect acknow- 



362 THE PEKSONAI.ITY 

ledgment of the reality and excellence of virtue — so the 
delusions of fancy could never be mistaken for the inspira- 
tion of the Spirit if there were no reasons to believe in the 
truth and genuineness of Divine and supernatural impres- 
sions. Still, the argument from abuse is never legitimate. 
The perceptions of the senses are sometimes delusive. In a 
diseased condition of the eye colours are often confounded, 
and to the muscles of the senseless paralytic the impression 
of resistance is impossible. The maniac reasons coherently 
and closely from arbitrary premises, mistaking the strong 
appearances of delirium for the indisputable truths of intu- 
ition. Shall we, therefore, from the known and acknow- 
ledged abuse of the fundamental principles of knowledge, be 
led to deny the reality of sensation or the certainty of intui- 
tive convictions? If the abuses of Religion are greater, 
more numerous and terrible than the abuses of any other 
subject, the only proper conclusion should be that religion 
itself is of infinitely greater importance than all other sub- 
jects combined. The evils of abuse are always proportioned 
to the intrinsic excellence of that which is perverted. That 
ocean which purifies the atmosphere, moderates temperature 
and binds the nations together in the enduring ties of broth- 
erhood and interest, diverted from its bed would be the 
most appalling scourge with which the earth could be visited. 
The greatest temporal blessing which any nation is capable 
of enjoying is a wise, equitable, free and magnanimous gov- 
ernment ; the most awful calamity with which any country 
can be cursed is tyranny. Fanaticism may well be called 
Legion, for its horrors are unspeakable and its dangers in- 
conceivable both in time and eternity ; but it derives its 
malignity from the perversion and abuse of the sublimest 
truths and most elevating doctrines which can possibly be 
addressed to the human understanding. It poisons the 
waters of life at the fountain, converts them into elements 
of death and spreads devastation and terror in the whole 
extent of its progress. The Devil will sometimes transform 
himself into an angel of light, so that the corruptions and 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 363 

excesses both of superstition and enthusiasm seem to be 
inseparable, without the special interference of God, from our 
fallen condition. The great deceiver will endeavour to 
mimic the real operations of the Spirit ; he will endeavour 
to substitute the glare of hell for the illumination of grace, 
and the revelry of intoxicated feeling for that joy in the 
Holy Ghost which is the special prerogative of the saints. 
He will deceive multitudes with the furious dreams of 
fanaticism, and yet the foundation of God standeth sure. 
The seal of the Spirit is no vain delusion, though thousands 
may bear a stamp which is only a counterfeit — a wicked and 
diabolical imitation of the impression of the Holy One. 
Let every man look well to his own heart. 

I have thus presented a subject which it is useless to 
declare lies at the foundation of our highest interests. If 
we have correct apprehensions of the personality of the 
Spirit as an essential element of religious experience, we 
shall be guarded at once from tlie evils of formality and the 
extravagant excesses of fanaticism. We shall be led to 
regard Christianity as a Divine life in the soul — as consist- 
ing not in forms, rites and ceremonies, but in the communion 
of the Spirit, the love of the Father and the grace of the 
Son ; and we shall perceive that the worship of the glorious 
Trinity is the sum and substance of spiritual religion. The 
great doctrine of supernatural grace is the great opprobrium 
of the Gospel. Multitudes who have the form of godliness 
without its power, who are sleeping in carnal security though 
their consciences have never been purged from the sad defile- 
ments of sin, will represent all anxiety about the condition 
of the soul as the result of melancholy or the incipient stages 
of insanity. From such we must turn away in pity and in 
fear — in pity, because, if there be truth in the Bible, they 
are in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity ; in 
fear, because contact with them is the torpedo-touch of death. 
Others, who are full of life and zeal and boisterous preten- 
sions, will talk largely about the supernatural influences of 
the- Spirit and the cheering operations of grace, but if their 



364 THE PEESONALITY 

characters be tested by the infallible standard of the Word, 
there will be detected the elements of pride, vain-glory and 
selfishness under the specious mask of religious devotion. 
Their zeal is without knowledge, their fervour without 
piety, and their comforts without faith. They are like 
waves of the sea or clouds of the air, wells without water, 
shooting-stars to whom is reserved the blackness of dark- 
ness for ever. There are many false Christs abroad in the 
world. The forms of deception are so numerous, and its con- 
sequences so unspeakably disastrous, that we need a Teacher 
who alone can guide us through the labyrinths of error, re- 
veal to our liearts the economy of grace, unite us effectually 
to the Son of God, and make us partakers of everlasting life. 
The Eternal S})irit is the true Minister of the Tabernacle 
which the Lord pitched, and not man. Under His Divine 
guidance and direction we may pass through the world in 
safety and peace; its elements of disorder shall be rendered 
subservient to our good, and even afflictions and calamities 
made to work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of glory. If He dwell in our hearts and control and regu- 
late our lives, our peace shall flow as a river, and our hope 
shall be as an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast. 
It is His presence that renders the Church fair as the sun, 
clear as the moon and terrible as an army with banners, 
and to every true believer He will infallibly be found a 
cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 

Soon every other distinction will fade away but that 
which is created by the possession of the Spirit. In the 
great day which awaits us all, when God shall arise to 
shake terribly the earth, and the destinies of all the race 
shall be sealed for ever, our right to life will depend exclu- 
sively on the witness of the Holy Ghost. None can sus- 
tain their title as sons but those whom He has sealed unto 
the day of redemption. To appear without His signet on 
our foreheads and His impress upon our hearts is to awake 
to the resurrection of damnation, to be doomed to shame 
and everlasting contempt. It will not be a question whe- 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 365 

ther we have been great or mean, honoured or despised, ricli 
or poor. All the trappuigs of earth must be laid aside at 
death, but it will be a question, and a question of over- 
whelming importance, whether or not we have possessed 
the Spirit. The complexion of eternity must depend upon 
the answer to this awful question. If we have been among 
those miserable skeptics who have not so much as heard 
that there be a Holy Ghost, if we have despised religion 
under the name of fanaticism, and laughed at grace as the 
effervescence of enthusiasm, unlimited duration will be the 
period assigned us to lament our folly and bewail the con- 
sequences of our terrible delusion. If we have preferred 
the light of our own eyes to the light of the Spirit, and the 
imagination of our own hearts to His heavenly guidance, 
we shall be left at last to stumble irretrievably upon the 
dark mountains of despair, to eat the fruit of our own ways 
and be filled with our own devices. Without the Spirit of 
the living God we are dead, irrecoverably dead — dead for 
time and dead for eternity. 

In addition to these considerations, which ought to be 
sufficient to impress upon us the transcendent importance 
of seeking the grace of the Holy Ghost, the tremendous 
sanctions with which His majesty and glory are sustained 
deserve to be seriously pondered. If we blaspheme the 
name of the Father, there is a place left for repentance and 
salvation — we may be forgiven. If we blaspheme the 
name of the Son, that also may be forgotten and blotted out 
for ever. But if we blaspheme the name of the Holy Ghost, 
we shall never be forgiven, either in this world or that which 
LS to come. There is no place left for repentance, though, 
like Esau, we seek it bitterly and with tears. This tremen- 
dous sanction is like a wall of fire thrown around the Spirit 
to protect Him from insult and to attest the grandeur of 
His nature. Coming directly in contact as He docs with 
the darkness, corruption, impurity and defilement of the 
hearts of men. His authority is maintained and His honour 
vindicated by the unspeakable malediction with which they 



366 THE PERSONALITY 

are visited who despise His majesty. Because there is 
wrath let us beware. Let us not venture to sport upon the 
edge of a precipice so inconceivably dangerous. What the 
blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is, we are perhaps unable 
to determine, and in this acknowledged ignorance of its 
nature we may commit it while we are amusing our hearts 
with the siren song of prosperity and whispering all is well. 
The day of our merciful visitation may pass away, and the 
things that belong to our peace be for ever hid from our 
eyes, while we have been conscious of no greater sin than 
just the grieving by neglect and delay of the Holy Spirit 
of God. There is a point at which mercy shall kindle into 
vengeance, at which the insulted Spirit shall take his ever- 
lasting departure, and leave those M^ho would not believe 
under the terrible calamity of judicial blindness. Let us, 
then, see that we grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. The 
salvation of the soul is invested with too much solemnity, 
eternity is too vast an interest, to be treated with levity and 
postponed for our convenience. The dictate of reason and 
prudence, as well as the conunand of God, is to seek first the 
one thing needful ; let that be secured before we distract our 
minds with the vain anxieties of the lieathen about what we 
shall eat, or what we shall drink, or wherewithal we shall 
be clothed. Let not the summer pass away nor the harvest 
disappear until we can say that our souls are saved. 

If we could be brought to apprehend our real condition 
as condemned malefactors, if we knew our guilt, our misery, 
our weakness, if we felt the magnitude of the interests at 
stake, we should cease not day or night to cry mightily to 
God that He would bow the heavens and come down, and 
make our hearts His chosen habitations through the Spirit. 
We should prize the Holy Ghost as our hope, since He alone 
can sprinkle the blood of iatonement on our consciences, 
repair the ruins of our moral constitutions, prepare us for 
death, for judgment, for eternity. Christ must for ever 
remain to us a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, 
unless the Spirit reveal His glory as of the only-begotten 



OF THE HOLY GHOST. 367 

of the Father, full of grace and truth. God must for ever 
continue a consuming fire unless the Spirit purify our hearts 
by faith and fit us for communion with the Father of lights. 
Heaven must ever remain inaccessible to our efforts unless 
the Spirit seal us as the sons of God and the heirs of im- 
mortality. So deep is my conviction of the importance of 
the Spirit that I know not where to find the language that 
is suited to express the transcendent value of His grace. 
Eternity alone can reveal how much they lose who know 
nothing of His love, His consolations and His joys. It 
was the Spirit who garnished the heavens and the earth ; 
traces of His glory are found in all the visible creation ; 
the only spot where His light does not shine is among the 
spirits of the lost. Hell, and hell alone, is adorned with no 
memorial of His grace, and to hell all must be finally con- 
signed who have not His witness within them. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



This short, but sweet and touching, exhibition of what the salvation of 
the Gospel is, would appear from the handwriting to have been amongst 
its author's earlier productions. It was written in the form of a sermon 
on John iii. 17, but there is no record on the manuscript of its ever 
having been preached, and it certainly was never before put into type. 
Vol. II.— 24 369 



THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 



"TTTE read in the third chapter of John that God sent not His 
' ' Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the 
world through Him might be saved. Now, while in accord- 
ance with these words it is universally admitted by all who 
acknowledge the Divine authority of the Scriptures that 
Jesus Christ is the Saviour of His people, various opinions 
are supported in regard to the nature of His salvation and 
the means by which it is effected. In cases of signal deliver- 
ance or eminent success the Greeks and Romans erected 
temples and dedicated altars to the false objects of their 
worship under the title of saviours, and even princes and 
heroes, for daring achievements in the hour of conflict, re- 
ceived the same mark of honour and respect from the grate- 
ful adulation of the people. Inspiration itself applies the 
term to Othniel and Ehud, evidently showing that the 
mere word does not necessarily imply attributes and powers 
inconsistent with the nature of man. We learn from Plato 
that the Greeks, at their banquets, uniformly made a liba- 
tion to Jupiter from the third goblet, under the title of 
saviour, as the giver of prosperity. In Scripture phraseol- 
ogy, the word salvation is applied to any deliverance from 
evil, whether moral or physical. It was common with 
Christ to say to the invalid, " Thy faith hath saved thee," 
meaning only. Thy faith hath healed thee. The word is so 
broad and extensive in its import that the mere phraseology 
of the passage from John, separate and apart from other 
declarations of Scripture, does not prove that Jesus is at all 

371 



372 THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

distinguished from Moses or from Joshua, from Othniel or 
Ehud. To be sure, He is represented as offering salvation 
to the world, while their operations are confined to the chil- 
dren of Israel. But if this passage in John stood isolated 
and alone, or were the only ^^^^sage of the Bible which 
attributes salvation to Jesus, we would not be bound to con- 
clude that He was anything more than a distinguished 
teacher or illustrious prophet. To save the world may mean 
only to dispel the ignorance which prevails among men and 
to diffuse the light of knowledge and of truth. The Apostles 
are frequently styled the saviours of those who were con- 
verted by their preaching, because they delivered them from 
the dangerous influence of idolatrous error by spreading the 
knowledge of the true religion. If Jesus had done nothing 
more than reform the abuses and correct the errors of 
society ; if He had only promulgated a system of moral and 
religious truth, fixing accurately the nature of right and the 
extent of human duty ; if He had only added fresh and 
stronger sanctions to the eternal principles of rectitude and 
virtue ; if He had done nothing more than teach, reform and 
elevate our race, — He would have done enough for the world 
to elicit its gratitude and gain the honourable title of its 
Saviour. Valuable, however, as the moral teachings of 
Jesus unquestionably are. His salvation includes something 
higher and more difficult. Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato 
were eminent philosophers, and did much towards reforming 
abuses and correcting errors amongst their countrymen, 
and yet we should hardly think of comparing the Messiah 
with a Grecian sage or a Roman seer. Solomon uttered 
dark sayings of old, and was a teacher of wisdom to his 
subjects, but a greater than Solomon is here. In what, then, 
does the salvation of Jesus consist, or in what peculiar and 
emphatic sense is He denominated the Saviour of His jJcoplef 
The passages which stand in immediate conjunction with 
the words quoted above from John distinctly declare that 
the great object of the mission of Christ was to deliver His 
followers from the ruin and misery of sin, and to give them 



THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 873 

the blessings of eternal life. " As Moses lifted up the ser- 
pent in the wildernesSj even so must the Son of man be 
lifted up, that whosoever believeth on Him might not per- 
ish, but have everlasting life." " For God so loved the world 
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever be- 
lieveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 
Here the salvation ascribed to Christ evidently has a pri- 
mary reference to the beatitude of heaven and the ruinous 
punishment of sin. He is styled a Saviour because He 
delivers His people from eternal death and gives them 
eternal life. If we bear in mind that happiness is not an 
independent, isolated object of existence, but merely the 
natural consequence and uniform concomitant of holiness, 
we shall see at once that the salvation of Jesus necessarily 
includes ample and adequate means of destroying the de- 
pravity of the heart and of rendering His followers holy. 
Happiness and virtue have been linked together by the 
eternal fiat of Jehovah, and no human ingenuity can tear 
them asunder. Without holiness it is impossible to see the 
Lord — that is, to be completely and eminently happy. 
Jesus cannot — such is the moral government of God — Jesus 
cannot be a Saviour without delivering His people from 
their sins. It is a profound remark of a writer in other 
respects dangerous and heretical that a " man is saved only 
so far as he is holy." Jesus received His name by the ex- 
press and solemn appointment of God, because He should 
save His people from their sins. In view of the intimate 
connection which obtains between vice and misery, virtue 
and happiness, and in view of the passages which ascribe 
salvation to Christ because He delivers us from a state of 
misery into a state of happiness, and of those which ascribe 
salvation to Him because He delivers us from sin and cor- 
ruption, we should say that the true scriptural idea of sal- 
vation can only be found in combining the two. Jesus 
would then be called a Saviour, because He frees His fol- 
lowers from sin, and consequently from misery — because He 
makes them holy, and consequently happy. If we have cor- 



374 THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

rcct notions of the government of God, we shall see that 
these ideas are substantially the same. To be freed from 
sin and misery is to be made holy, and to be made holy is 
to be made happy. Holiness, therefore, itself, in its cause 
and results, covers the whole ground of salvation. We can 
indeed conceive of a state of things in which holiness should 
be essentially different from happiness, but this is not the 
state of things which actually obtains under the providence 
of God. The formation of a holy character, therefore, is the 
great point to which Jesus as a Saviour must direct His 
efforts. His salvation is incomplete — nay, it is a total failure 
— unless this great point is effectually secured, and when it 
shall have been completely gained, happiness and eternal life 
necessarily follow. 

According to the Scripture account of the matter, we are 
all clean gone from original righteousness — totally averse 
from all good and pertinaciously inclined to all evil. We 
are said to be conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, and 
it is a well-known fact that our first exhibitions of moral 
agency, how guarded soever our educations may have been, 
manifest a fearful disregard to the laws of God, to holiness 
and to truth. It was the curse of our great progenitor to 
transmit to his posterity the corruption which he brought 
upon himself. In the wild infatuation of his heart he 
sought out the strange invention of moral deformity and 
death, and his whole issue to the latest generation became 
involved in his ruin. The recorded experience of the world 
proves beyond all doubt that man is naturally depraved — 
completely, totally, utterly depraved. When I say that men 
are totally depraved, I do not mean that they are incapable 
of performing any acts which, in themselves considered, are 
conformable with the law of God. The recij)rocal duties of 
humanity may be faithfully discharged by a man who, in 
the vicM^ of God, is regarded as dead in trespasses and sins. 
Depravity consists in a total defection from the authority of 
God — in an alienation of the heart from its Maker. With 
fidelity and zeal we may perform the duties which devolve 



THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 375 

upon us in all the important relations of life. We can pity 
the unfortunate and relieve the distressed ; submit with 
quietness to the laws of the country ; sustain the offices of a 
father, a husband, a brother and a friend ; and yet be want- 
ing in the only principle of living obedience and genuine 
virtue which the Scriptures recognize. The heart is yet at 
enmity with God, and until this enmity is slain our very 
best actions are only splendid sins. Morality is important 
to society, but the morality which jJroceeds from any other 
principle than a principle of love to God is like a statue, 
beautiful, elegant and well-proportioned, but, alas ! wanting 
in life. The carnal heart is enmity with God, and this is 
the secret, the great secret, of human depravity; into this 
principle it can all be resolved, and is resolved by the sacred 
writers. The rebel and revolted spirit must be brought 
back to its allegiance to God before it can perform an act of 
genuine obedience or of genuine holiness. How, then, caji 
this be done? This was the great problem which infinite 
wisdom had to solve in planning the salvation of the world. 
This was the great riddle which puzzled the universe — ^the 
mystery into which the angels desired to look. Man could 
not be reclaimed to his allegiance by the thunders of the law 
which he had violated ; these would only drive him to a 
stouter resistance. His affections could not be recalled by 
the frowning aspect of a menacing Deity ; this would excite 
a deadlier hate. How, then, can he be reclaimed? The 
answer is. By removing the procuring cause of his enmity to 
God, for when the cause is removed the effect, as a matter 
of course, ceases to exist. 

Now, what mainly produces the enmity of the carnal heart 
against God is a consciousness of sin and a dread of its awful 
consequences. It is a radical doctrine of all religion that no 
sin is unconditionally pardonable, and the feeling is deeply 
rooted in the human heart that some satisfaction must be 
rendered to the Divine law before the sinner can gain the 
approbation of his God. Hence, all superstitions have insti- 
tuted rites and ceremonies, penances and sufferings, in order to 



376 THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

appease the anger of Heaven. The connection between guilt 
and punishment has been written by the finger of Omnipo- 
tence on the human heart, and in the darkest midnight of 
the mind we find the idolatrous heathen and the wandering 
savage responding to the sentiment of the Apostle, that 
without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Re- 
pentance was felt to be inadequate, for it could only act on 
the future without touching the past. The law had been 
broken in days gone by, and the future could only discharge 
its own incumbent obligations. Resort was consequently 
had to the blood of bulls and goats, and even the body was 
lacerated and torn to purge the sin of the soul. But these 
penances gave only a temporary quiet without affording per- 
manent security. Men still felt that they were debtors to 
the law and justly exposed to punishment. The fear of 
punishment clung to them, an intolerable burden ; they 
feared the might of God's right hand. A thought of God 
was a thought of terror, and the grave was black as mid- 
night. This dread of God's justice, arising from a sense of 
guilt, is the great ground of the sinner's hatred to God, and 
can only be removed by appeasing that justice and assuring 
the sinner that he can be pardoned. In other words, some 
plan must be devised to assure the sinner that he can be 
regarded as just — as a being who has never offended in the 
sight of God — and the integrity, at the same time, of the 
Divine attributes be preserved unimpaired. Every scheme 
of salvation which fails to comprehend this important prin- 
ciple can afford no permanent or solid security to the hopes 
of the guilty. The sinner must be certainly assured that he 
can stand on the same footing with a man who had never 
sinned, without detracting from the honour of God, before he 
can be brought to view his Maker with affection or to dis- 
miss his sentiments of dread. It is all idle to talk of his 
loving God while the weight of unpardoned guilt hangs over 
him. The terrors of the Lord encompass him about, and 
the horrors of the grave seize hold upon him. In the nature 
of things, a vindictive deity cannot be the subject of delight 



THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 377 

to the fallen object of His vengeance. Terror and dread are 
not the native elements of love. We may quail beneath the 
fiery justice and uplifted arm of a menacing Deity; we may 
tremble and shake at the awful exhibitions of an angry God, 
when the heavens grow black with His wrath and the firma- 
ment smokes with His hot displeasure. Aye ! He may 
alarm and appal us by exposing to view the revolting scenes 
of the lower pit, where the worm dieth not and the fire is 
not quenched, but where there is wailing and woe and black 
despair for ever and ever. But exhibitions like these will 
only steel our hearts to deeper defiance and sterner hate. 
They cannot unbar the doors of our love. They may make 
us muster the energies of dark despair and clench our fists 
and nerve our souls to battle with Omnipotence. Love can 
only be gained by love, and God must show to the sinner a 
smiling face and an approving eye before He can win the 
sinner's affections. The sinner must know that his guilt is 
gone, that God has forgotten it and is disposed to treat him 
as a just man, as a being who had never sinned. 

Now the principle of imputation, the very keystone which 
supports the arch of the Christian system, is admirably 
suited to dispel the fears and quiet the apprehensions of 
conscious guilt. The iniquities of the sinner are taken 
from his own shoulders, and all their burden is imposed 
upon Christ. The penalties of the law are met and satis- 
fied by His vicarious sufferings, and His perfect obedience to 
the law of God being imputed to the sinner as his own obe- 
dience, the sinner comes to be regarded in the eye of God 
as a just man, as a being who had never offended. The 
law has no further claims upon him ; he is restored in the 
view of Heaven to the same situation of sinless purity which 
belonged to Adam before his fall. He is as though he had 
never transgressed. All this results from the great princi- 
ple of imputation — a radical principle of the Gospel clearly 
set forth in the writings of the Apostles and that old Evan- 
gelist, Isaiah; nay, it is deeply grounded in the moral gov- 
ernment of God, and he that denies its existence will find 



378 THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

many anomalies which he cannot unriddle and many appear- 
ances which he cannot explain. Those who deny that the 
sufferings of Christ were truly and properly vicarious are 
reduced to the awkward dilemma of denying entirely all 
moral distinctions or of denying that Jesus is a Saviour. 
If they hold to moral distinctions, they must likewise hold 
to a moral government. Now, a moral government is a gov- 
ernment of law, and every law implies a sanction, a reward 
for obedience and a punishment for disobedience. When 
'God promulgates a law, He does it with a view of having it 
observed, and the object of the sanction is to supply a strong 
and adequate motive for the observance of the law. Now, 
the force of the sanction depends essentially on the certainty 
of its execution. Unless the sanction be uniformly enforced 
the laAv is a dead letter. Those who deny that the suffer- 
ings of Christ were truly and properly vicarious, and at the 
same time contend that Jesus is a Saviour, actually main- 
tain that the sanctions of the law have been left unexecuted, 
and that the law consequently is a dead letter ; in other 
words, that there is no distinction between vice and virtue, 
a duty and a crime. They charge God with the ridiculous 
farce of promulgating a law with awful solemnity which He 
never meant to enforce, and with the downright duplicity 
of uttering threats which He never designed to execute. A 
law without a sanction is no law, and a sanction unexecuted 
Ls no sanction. Its efficacy depends altogether on the abso- 
lute certainty of its being enforced. Let the law be once 
violated with impunity, and there is an end at once of all 
obedience and authority. On the other hand, those who 
hold to moral distinctions and deny the atonement leave 
man exposed to the penalty of eternal death, quailing 
beneath the justice of God, a child of wrath and an heir 
of woe. They leave man just where they found him, 
oppressed with guilt and hating God on account of the ter- 
rors which surround His throne. We conclude, then, that 
the sufferings of Christ were truly and properly vicarious, 
that He died the just for the unjust, and that on Him wns 



THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 379 

laid the iniquity of us all. This is the only view of the 
subject which can give quiet to the troubled spirit and 
relieve the apprehensions of the guilty mind. Let the sin- 
ner believe firmly in the atonement of Jesus, and he can 
look to heaven without horror or dismay, for he sees there 
an approving Father and a smiling God. No sins oppress 
his soul, for he wears the robe of Christ's obedience and 
stands out in the light of day a just man. The great cause 
of his hatred to God is removed, the doors of his love are 
effectually unbarred, and what the Law with all its threats 
and penalties and terrors could not do, is gloriously accom- 
plished by the Cross of Christ. His spirit of stern rebellion 
and stubborn defiance is effectually subdued when he sees 
his God bending from the Mount of Crucifixion with out- 
stretched arms and a smiling face, imploring the children 
of men to come and be saved. He may stand out against all 
the threats and terrors of an incensed and vindictive Deity, 
he may defy his Maker when He frowns in wrath or upltfts 
tlie sword of eternal vengeance, but he cannot resist that 
supreme love, that wonderful love of God which spared not 
His own Son, but delivered Him up for His enemies. The 
sinner may hate an angry God, but he cannot but love a rec- 
onciled Father. Here is the magic of the Cross ; it presents 
a scene of love such as the world had never seen before and 
will never see again. When the world w^as lost, ruined and 
undone, w^hen all hope had fled from earth, and apparently 
fled for ever, Jehovah bows the heavens and comes down, 
and, travelling in the majesty of His strength, works out a 
redemption for His imprisoned subjects which astonished the 
angels and made the universe stand aghast. Here was love, 
unspeakable love, " When God the mighty Maker died for 
man the creature's sin." And when this amazing love is 
fully apprehended and distinctly realized, the stoutest heart 
of the proudest sinner will yield to its mighty influence. 
Love is the talisman by which God subdues the sinner's 
heart and gains his supreme affection. Let him firmly 
believe and strongly realize that Jesus was indeed the Lamb 



380 THE NATURE OF SALVATION. 

of God, slain for the sins of the world, and that it was Love, 
almighty Love, which occasioned the awful sacrifice, and he 
will bow his soul in the depths of humility and give his 
heart to God. So the Gospel accomplishes what the law 
could not do ; it infuses into the sinner's mind a principle 
of holiness and living obedience ; it gives him what noth- 
ing else could give him, a love of God, and under the 
sacred influence of the Holy Ghost fits him to enjoy the 
blessedness of heaven. Thus is Christ the Saviour of 
His people. 

The cross of Christ portrays at the same time in living 
characters the awful turpitude of guilt. We cannot regard 
sin, that abominable thing which God hates, as a matter of 
little moment when we call to mind the intense agony and 
withering suffering which the Son of God underwent in 
order to remove its curse. Chained as we are to this little 
corner of the universe, we can neither see clearly nor esti- 
nuite exactly the dreadful breach which it makes in the gov- 
ernment of God. But we are satisfied that God would have 
spared His Son if He could have done it consistently with 
His honour. We know that it was not a light affair which 
robed the sun in the darkness of midnight and awoke the 
dead from the slumber of ages. God does not exhibit His 
power from the mere vanity of show. There was a cause, 
a real, substantial, adequate cause, of these mighty changes 
in the course of nature. The Son of God in bleeding agony 
is enduring the hot displeasure of His Father against the 
ungodly, the vials of Divine wrath are poured upon Him, 
and He bows His soul in meek resignation to meet the pun- 
ishment which the sins of His people had incurred. The 
sufferings of Christ are a living comment on the awful tur- 
pitude and dreadful consequences of guilt ; and he that brings 
home to his own bosom the terrible tragedy that was acted 
on Calvary, while he feels his heart melt within him at the 
amazing love of God to His fallen creatures, will hate sin 
with a perfect hatred. Two points are gained at once — the 
love of God and the hatred of sin. 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



The article upon Antinomianism is the Appendix added hj Dr. 
Thornwell to Traill's Vindication, which he published, as before men- 
tioned, amongst other Doctrinal Tracts, at Columbia in 1840. 



381 



ANTINOMIANISM. 



rriHE term Antinomianism is employed to denote a sys- 
J- tern of doctrine which naturally leads to licentiousness 
of life. Those who deny that the law of God is the meas- 
ure of duty, or that personal holiness should be sought by 
Christians, are those alone who can properly be charged 
with Antinomian principles. The Scriptures are so pointed 
and explicit in pressing upon believers that " denying 
ungodliness and worldly lusts they should live soberly, 
righteously and godly in this present world," that it becomes 
a matter of no little interest, even to the speculative inquirer, 
to account for the origin of Antinomianism. We must not 
confound the origin of the wo7-d with the origin of the 
tiling. The latter existed long before a single term expres- 
sive of its true character was applied to it. The word was 
coined in the sixteenth century to denote the peculiar opin- 
ions of John Agricola and his followers in regard to the 
Law. Agricola was a native of Aisleben, and, until he 
began to propagate his extravagant opinions in the year 
1538, a friend and abettor of Luther. The thing existed as 
far back certainly as the days of Paul and James. That the 
preaching of the " Word of the truth of the Gospel " should 
have been attended with Antinomian consequences upon any 
mind, however illiterate, can be accounted for only by the 
singular tendency of man to oscillate, in his opinions and 
practices, from one extreme to another. When, after a 
dreary night of Arminian darkness and of legal bondage, 

383 



384 ANTINOMIAKISM. 

the doctrines of grace are proclaimed with clearness and 
power, there are always found men who, unable to endure 
the light which reveals the folly of their slavish toils and 
unchristian schemes, pervert the Gospel and turn the grace 
of God into lasciviousness. If the Pharisees and doctors 
of the law had not galled and broken the necks of the peo- 
ple by the yoke of servitude which they imposed upon them, 
Paul perhaps would never have been slanderously reported 
as teaching men to do ill that good might come, neither 
would any have been tempted to boast of a faith which 
produced no fruit. Christians in his day, no doubt, in- 
directly and incidentally afforded plausible pretexts to the 
carnal and profane. Those who had been required to go 
through the laborious drudgery of establishing their own 
righteousness — a toil not unlike that imposed upon the 
Hebrews by the Egyptian taskmasters — who were at all 
enlightened to perceive the defects and wickedness of their 
best performances, could not but hail with joy the procla- 
mation of a perfect righteousness which was the " end of the 
law to every one that believed." And in their anxiety to 
free others from the same gross and slavish delusions under 
which they had laboured themselves, it is not strange, it is 
natural, that in some instances a phraseology more remark- 
able for point than accuracy should have been adopted for 
the purpose of effect. They saw the reigning power of 
legalism, they had felt its bitterness and knew its curse, 
and consequently spoke with the energy and pathos of men 
in earnest when endeavouring to arrest the pharisaical bias 
of the carnal heart. The dreams of the sleeper may be 
changed while his slumbers are unbroken. Many, no 
doubt, received opinions in the head which found no 
entrance in the heart, and confounding the important dis- 
tinction between justification and sanctification, and wilfully 
misled by the incautious statements of true disciples, pre- 
tended to receive Christ ; but it was a divided Christ, so 
that they might freely indulge the lascivious propensities 
of the carnal mind. These are the men whom Jude and 



ANTINOMIANISM. 385 

Peter denounce, and whose monstrous opinions James 
refutes. 

Three circumstances, therefore, conspired to produce 
the Antinomianism of the apostolic age: 1. The previous 
prevalence of legal opinions ; and, 2, the reception of the 
true doctrine of justification as a matter of the head 
M'ithout the concurrence of the heart, and consequently 
separated from the Gospel doctrine of sanctification. The 
mutual action and reaction of two such circumstances gave 
a violent impetus to these extravagant opinions. The nat- 
ural vibration of the mind is from the extreme of legalism 
to that of licentiousness, and nothing but the grace of God 
can fix it in the proper medium of Divine truth. The 
Gospel, like its blessed Master, is always crucified between 
two thieves — legalists of all sorts on the one hand and Anti- 
nomians on the other ; the former robbing the Saviour of 
the glory of his work for us, and the other robbing him of 
the glory of his work ivithin us. 3. Another circumstance 
which should be specially noted as contributing to a spirit 
of blasphemy among the ungodly was, that the Gospel laid 
its axe at the root of human pride. It excluded all boast- 
ing on the part of man. In the plenitude of his pride he 
had indulged the golden dream of buying the favour of his 
God by his vain oblations, his empty sacrifices and his 
heartless formality of worshij) ; and when assured that even 
his righteousnesses, were as filthy rags, when reminded of his 
native depravity and helplessness, like the encaged but 
untamed tiger he gnashed his teeth in rage, and vented 
his blasphemy against God by abusing, perverting and cor- 
rupting the glorious Gospel of grace. Such was the spring 
of Antinomianism in daring blasphemers. To men inflated 
with conceptions of their own sufficiency and intrinsic good- 
ness, the Gospel, when unaccompanied by saving grace, will 
j)roduce one of two effects — either contempt for its doctrines 
or unblushing licentiousness. In the one case its princi- 
ples are utterly rejected ; in the other, they madden and 
destroy. Both effects flow from the same principles of 

Vol. II.— 25 



386 ANTINOMIANISM. 

pride. They are only clifFerent streams from the same 
fountain. 

The Antinomianism which sprang up in the time of 
Luther (if indeed it can be called Antinomianism) seems to 
have been nothing more than a very violent revulsion in 
weak minds to the opposite extreme from the papal doctrine 
concerning good works. Whatever may have been the errors 
of Agricola and his followers, Popery should be regarded as 
their legitimate father. As long as men act upon the prin- 
ciple of contraria contrariis curantur, legalism, when the 
Gospel once comes to be proclaimed, will infallibly be fol- 
lowed among unrenewed men by abuses of some sort. The 
effect will be different according to the aspect in which the 
Gospel is most strongly contemplated. If it is seen as 
<'oming directly in collision with our pride and natural self- 
sufficiency, the result will be infatuated blindness to its tru+h 
or an open profligacy of life. If it is viewed as a system of 
grace providing a full and free salvation without the works 
of the law, as a free gift of God, the result will be a greedy 
appropriation of the blessing, without receiving Him by 
whom alone it is bestowed. The idea upjjermost in the 
mind is the absolute //•ec» ess of Divine grace; and hence that 
spiritual training by which we are rendered meet for the 
inheritance of the saints in light is totally disregarded or 
presumptuously denied, as if an unholy heart could hold 
everlasting communion with a holy God. 

Whatever form, however, Antinomianism may assume, it 
springs from legalism. None rush into the one extreme but 
those who have been in the other. If Dr. Crisp was really, 
as he has usually been regarded, the founder of English 
Antinomianism, let it be remembered that he was notori- 
ously, at one time, " a low Arminian, who held the merit of 
good works, and looked for salvation more from his own 
doings than from the work and grace of a Redeemer." The 
Antinomianism of Dr. Crisp consisted more, however, in 
loose and unguarded expressions than in real licentiousness 
of principles. He was an humble and a godly man. The 



ANTINOMIANISM. 387 

testimony to his excellence and worth, signed by a divine 
whom none can charge with the least tincture of libertinism 
— Rev. John Howe — deserves to be seriously pondered by 
those who can find no epithets too scurrilous to apply to 
Dr. Crisp. It may be fouud prefixed to Flavel's " Blow at 
the Root." From the statement there given, Dr. Crisp's 
Antinomianism seems to have been very questionable. His 
works, published after his death, which took place in 1643, 
nearly about the time of Traill's birth, gave rise to what 
has been called the Antinomian controversy in England. 

The "middle way" to which Traill alludes is probably 
the scheme of doctrine borrowed substantially from Vossius 
and Grotius, and maintained by Richard Baxter among the 
Dissenters, and Bishop Bull among the Churchmen, who took 
an active and even a violent part in this controversy against 
those whom they denounced as Antinomians. Their views, 
though the one professed to receive the Westminster Confes- 
sion of Faith and the other the Articlas of the Church of 
England, were substantially Arminian. They maintained 
that the death of Christ purchased for us a new and an 
easier law, which they called the law of grace or Gospel 
covenant, by obedience to which we were justified. This 
obedience they denominated evangelical righteousness, and 
contended that it is the matter of our actual justification 
before God, The new law of grace prescribed repentance, 
faith and sincere obedience as the conditions of our accept- 
ance and salvation. Whatever opposed this scheme, which 
is essentially legal and eminently dangerous, was denounced 
as Antinomian. Hence, it is no marvel that Baxter should 
have abused Owen, who triumphantly exposed his futile 
aphorisms on justification, and maintained the true Gospel 
doctrine which Traill so ably defends in his Vindication. 

According to Arminians generally, Antinomianism and 
the system of grace, which is usually called Calvinism, arc 
synonymous terms. Because the Gospel excludes our own 
works from forming any part of the matter of our justifica- 
tion, they most preposterously conclude that it excludes all 



388 ANTINOMIANISM. 

personal holiness ; because it does not confound justification 
and sanctification, they take it for granted that it denies the 
latter entirely. The following beautiful passage from 
Traill's "Sermons on the Lord's Prayer" may be commended 
to their special notice : 

" Christ represents His CJiurch unto God for their sancti- 
fication. Election in Christ is an eternal purpose in God's 
iieart and counsel about His people. Redemption by Christ 
is a Divine bargain for them and their salvation betwixt the 
Father and the Son. Justification is a gracious sentence of 
God in Christ on them that are represented by Him for 
acceptance. By this act and sentence the state of their per- 
sons is favourably changed. But sanctification is a Divine 
work in them that changeth their heart and nature. The 
Spirit of sanctification is a precious gift of Divine love, and 
is only given to them that are in Christ and because they 
are in Him. Gal. iv. 6 : ' And because ye are sons, God hath 
sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, 
Abba, Father.' All the anointings of the Holy Ghost that 
believers receive are but some drops that fall down from the 
head of our High Priest ' unto the skirts of His garments.' 
(Ps. cxxxiii. 2.) 'He received the Spirit without measure' 
(John iii. 34), that to His people, even 'to every one of 
tliem, grace may be given according to the measure of the 
gift of Christ' (Eph. iv. 7); not according to the measure 
that Christ got, but the measure that Christ giveth. And 
all of them received it. Rom. viii. 9 : ' If any man have 
not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.' Let him not 
' name the name of Christ ' (as his Lord and Master) ' that 
departeth not from iniquity.' (2 Tim. ii. 19.) All whose 
iniquities Christ did bear for their expiation, in due time 
Christ ' blesseth them in turning every one of them away 
from their iniquities.' (Acts iii. 26.) This blessing of sancti- 
fication is of pure grace, for as there is nothing of worth in 
a man, or regarded by God in justifying, so there is nothing 
of goodness or of fit matter for God to work upon in His 
sanctifying. God's word is as clear about this as about the 



ANTINOMIANISM. 389 

other. The account that we have so largely of the natural 
state of all men without Christ is sufficient to show the 
absolute necessity all stand in of God's grace to save them, 
and to declare both the freedom and power of that grace in 
all its applications to men. Grace is the spring of salvation 
and of all its parts ; Christ is the root of all ; and eternal 
life and glory is the ripe fruit of all that grace of God that 
* reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus 
Christ our Lord.' (Rom. v. 21.) See but these texts and 
read them, and conclude this truth: 1 Cor. vi. 11 ; Eph. ii. 
1-7 ; and Tit. iii. 3-7. In all which places justification and 
sanctification are joined (as they are certainly and constantly 
in all that partake of them), unworthiness in the receivers 
overcome and passed over by the grace of the Giver, and the 
interest of Jesus Christ, in God's giving and in His people's 
receiving of both these blessings, is plainly told us." 

Holiness so far from being the cause of salvation is a 
part of it : " He shall be called Jesus because He shall save 
His people from their sins." Sin is that body of death 
from which we are delivered by the effectual operations of 
the Spirit of Christ. Hence, it is perfectly ridiculous to 
represent works as conditions of salvation, since the ability 
and disposition to perform good works are blessings which 
we receive from our Saviour in fulfillment of his office as 
Redeemer. Holiness is a benefit received, and not a price 
paid; it is our meetness for heaven, not our title to it. 
" Gospel justification," says the Rev. Robert Bragge, " is a 
change of state and condition in the eye of the law and the 
lawgiver, whereas Gospel sanctification is a blessed con- 
formity of heart and life to the law or will of tlie lawgiver. 
The first is a relative change from being guilty to be ri2,lit- 
eous; the other is a real change from being filthy to be 
holy. By the one we are made near to God, by the other 
we are made like Him. By being justified, of aliens we are 
made children ; by being sanctified, the enmity of the heart 
is slain, and the sinner made not only a faithful, loyal sub- 
ject, but a loving, dutiful child. This may be set in the 



390 ANTINOMIANISM. 

clearest light by the following simile : Our children, the 
clay they are born, are as much our children as they are 
ever after, but they are many years growing up into a state 
of manhood ; their likeness to us as it respects the mind as 
well as the body is daily increasing. Thus a king's first- 
born son is heir-apparent to the crown while lying in the 
cradle ; after-growth adds nothing to his title, but it does 
to his fitness to govern, and succeed his father. Our right 
to heaven comes not in at the door of our sanctification, but 
at that of our justification ; but our meetness for heaven does. 
By Christ's righteousness, it being upon us, we have a right 
to the inheritance, and by Christ's image, it being drawn 
upon us, we have our meetness." 

Those who are anxious to see an elaborate and very able 
effort to reconcile the doctrine of justification by works with 
the grace of God as revealed in the Gospel will find ample 
satisfaction in the " Harmonia Apostoliea" of Bishop Bull. 
If my limits allowed, I would present an abstract of the 
work for the purpose of exposing the radical error which 
pervades the whole system. The Bishop inveighs severely 
against Pelagianism and those works which are done by the 
power of nature Avithout the grace of Christ, and denies that 
even our evangelical obedience possesses any merit in itself; 
all its value is derived from the merit of Christ. Christ 
merited, not that we might merit by our works but that we 
might obtain. We have no strength in ourselves to do good 
works. This we derive from grace, but the efficacy of 
grace depends entirely upon our own wills. Now the 
reigning error of Arminianism, Pelagianism and this Neo- 
nomianism — for they are all substantially the same, they rest 
upon identically the same principle — is an utter disregard 
of the true Scripture doctrine of grace, and a fatal misap- 
prehension of the present condition of man in the sight of 
God. The friends of these sj'stems will all admit that a 
man is justified by grace, but when they undertake to 
explain their meaning, " grace is no more grace." 

The source of the error in many minds is the unfounded 



ANTINOMIAXISM. 391 

notion that grace is whatever is opposed to merit. They 
judge of the former by comparing it with the latter, and 
hence they suppose that they are contending for salvation 
by grace when they arc only denying salvation by merit. 
According to the conceptions which we usually frame of 
merit in our intercourse Avith one another, it is impossible 
that man can deserve anything at the hands of his Maker. 
Wrapped in the blessedness and immensity of His own 
nature, the Eternal Jehovah stands in no need of any ser- 
vices from us, and our constant dependence upon His benev- 
olence and bounty for all the blessings which we enjoy 
renders our holiest obedience nothing more than a suitable 
expression of gratitude. Vie only give Him of His own. 
The purest angels that surround His throne strictly and 
properly speaking deserve nothing at His hands ; their joy 
and blessedness are nothing but the results of unrestrained 
loving-kindness on His part. To suppose that man can 
merit any of the blessings of God is just to suppose that the 
obedience of man is a full equivalent for the favour of his 
Creator — that it constitutes a value received, an actual bene- 
fit, which God is under a moral obligation to acknowledge. 
If grace, then, is only that which is opposed to merit, such 
a thing as salvation by grace in distinction from any other 
scheme is utterly impossible. The necessary relations sub- 
sisting between the creature and the Creator preclude for 
ever, even from the holiest, the most remote approximations 
to merit. Hence, every scheme of justification would stand 
u])on the same footing on the score of grace, and one could no 
more be said to be of grace than another. If Adam had kept 
his first estate, and secured the fulfillment of the promise to 
him and his posterity, he would have been just as far from 
meritwg eternal life as the sinner redeemed by Christ, and 
consequently, according to this absurd conception of the 
matter, w^ould have been just as much saved by grace. We 
are not, then, to look into the antithesis of merit for just 
conceptions of grace. The Scriptures nowhere speak of the 
merit of the creature. This idea, unknown to the holv and 



392 ANTINOMIANISM. 

the goodj is to be found only in the hearts of the ruined and 
the lost. Its only lodgment is in that cage of unclean birds, 
the unsanctified heart of man. Strange that the wretch who 
is so far from God, who is dead in trespasses and sins, should 
enhance his guilt by inflated conceptions of worth ! " Surely 
men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are 
a lie." To what, then, do the Scripture oppose grace ? To 
works, to works of law. Grace is the opposite of legal 
obedience. Justification by grace is justification without tho 
deeds of the law. Salvation by grace is salvation which is 
not of works. *' Being justified freely by grace" is used a.s 
synonymous with " being justified by faith without the deeds 
of the law," (Rom. iii. 24, 28.) Grace and works are clearl}' 
opposed in Rom. xi. 6 : " And if by grace, then is it no 
more of works ; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if 
it be of Avorks, then is it no more grace ; otherwise work 
is no more work." Also in Eph. ii. 8, 9 : " For by grace 
are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, 
it is the gift of God : not of works, lest any man should 
boast." The nature of a legal dispensation, or a state of 
proper probation, is that it is one in which God promises 
eternal life upon condition of obedience to be rendered to a 
specified law. The very essence of such a state consists 
in the prescription of conditions. To prescribe the con- 
dition is purely an act of sovereignty and grace ; to 
bestow the blessing when the condition has been fulfilled is 
an act of faithfulness arising only from the obligation which 
God by His promise has imposed upon Himself. In this 
way, and in this way only, a Divine blessing may become 
a matter not of merit, but of debt. Rom. iv. 4 : " Now, 
to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, 
but of del)t." It is due to the obedient by the Divine 
promise. 

Any plan of salvation, therefore, which lays down any- 
thing to be done by man, no matter what and no matter 
Itow, whether with or without the assistance of Divine grace 
as a condition of the Divine favour, is a legal plan, and 



ANTINOMIANISM. 393 

rests upon the same fundamental principle, and is precisely 
of the same essential nature with the scheme on which the 
hopes of the race were suspended before the Fall. By a 
condition is meant that for sake of which the blessing is 
bestowed, that to which it is promised, and without Avhich 
it would not be bestowed. It is not a value received for 
the blessing, or a strict and literal equivalent ; the blessing 
becomes due to it only by the grace and sovereign appoint- 
ment of God. The term condition is sometimes employed 
to express that which is prior in the order of nature or of 
time. In this sense it is what Boston calls a condition of 
connection; it denotes that one of them must take place 
before another in consequence of their connection in the 
scheme of grace. Thus, in this sense, faith is a condition 
of justification ; not that it is a something to be done, for 
the sake of which we are justified, but we must be united 
to Christ before we can become partakers of his everlast- 
ing righteousness. Holiness is a condition of seeing God ; 
it is necessary to the full enjoyment of the beatific vision. 
The successive rounds in the ladder must be passed before 
we can reach the top. W^hen used in this sense, the word 
condition conveys no dangerous idea, but as an ambiguous 
word liable to be abused it should be laid aside by all sound 
ministers of the Gospel. 

If, tlien, God has made our salvation dependent upon any- 
thing to be performed by us, it is not a matter of grace, but 
of works. The notion that legalism is avoided by ascribing 
our power to comply with the conditions to the grace of God 
is a mere evasion of the difficulty. A legal dispensation 
necessarily supposes power in its subjects to comply with its 
requirements. We would instinctively revolt at the tyranny 
involved in the supposition that Adam was destitute of the 
power necessary to fulfil the condition of the Covenant of 
Works. It is hardly conceivable that God would make a 
covenant with man, and solemnly ratify it, without giving 
man the power to obey its requirements. It signifies little 
whether this power come from nature or from grace (in 



394 ANTINOMIANISM. 

either case it is from God) ; man must have it before he can 
be the subject or the party of a legal covenant. Neither is 
the principle affected by the thing required to be done; 
Avhether it be obedience to the whole moral law, or only 
sincere obedience, or only faith, repentance and perseverance 
which are required, something is to he done — a condition is 
prescribed — and God's favour ultimately turns upon man's 
will. The principle of works is as fully recognized in a 
mild law as in a strict one. He as truly buys who pays only 
Si farthing as he who j)ays a thousand pounds. If these prin- 
ciples are correct, the Arminianism of Bishop Bull and 
Baxter, and all who coincide wath them, is common ground 
with barefaced Pelagianism. There is no medium in prin- 
ciple between Pelagianism and Calvinism. Man is either 
not under a legal dispensation at all, or there is no sucli 
thing as salvation by grace. Man is saved either by works 
or not by Avorks. There is no halfway ground, and all the 
eflPorts to find one have proved unsuccessful. Calvinists 
maintain that man is not in a state of legal probation — that 
he is condemned already ; destitute of life and power, and 
therefore incapable of being the party to a legal covenant, 
and that God has never qualified him by grace to become 
so. He is under the curse of such a covenant, and therefore 
cannot hope for its blessing. He is delivered from the guilt 
and dominion of sin by the power and grace of a Redeemer. 
Being destitute of all things in himself, he is justified by the 
righteousness of another and sanctified by the Spirit of 
another. Salvation, as a harmonious whole embracing par- 
don, acceptance, adoption, peace, holiness and everlasting 
joy, is the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
This is our testimony. In the faith of these principles w*^ 
Avould live and die, and consequently we would glory in 
nothins: but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all 
our " salvation and all our desire." 



PREFATOEY NOTE 



The article on Christian Effort was written as a sermon on Philii>- 
pians i. 27 : " Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of 
Christ, that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of 
your affairs that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving 
together for the faith of the Gospel." But there is no record of its having 
ever been preached. The handwriting makes manifest that it was one 
of the author's earlier productions. It is placed here as properly follow- 
ing and applying the principles of the Doctrines of Grace set forth in the 
previous portions of this volume. 

395 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 



THE life of the Christian is not a life of inactivity and 
ease. He becomes the servant of God by receiving the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and is sent into his Master's vineyard 
for the purpose of working for his Master's glory. The 
Apostle, in Philippians i. 27, gives us a brief but comjire- 
hensive description of the work which the Christian is 
required to do and the manner in which it should be done. 

I. The follo^vers of Christ must " strive together for the 
liiith of the Gospel." This is their business — their duty — 
their Master's work which they must perform. The faith 
of the Gospel may mean only that particular feature of the 
Gospel which relates to justification, or all the doctrines and 
])recepts of the Gospel taken together as a whole. It is a 
matter of very little consequence which interpretation we 
adopt, as they both come to the same thing at last. There 
can be no cordial acceptance of Christ for righteousness with- 
out a cordial acceptance of Him for sanctifi cation. He can- 
not be divided. No man can receive Him as a priest who 
does not at the same time receive Him as a king. The 
general idea of the Apostle, therefore, is that Christians 
should strive together for the purpose of promoting the suc- 
cess of the Gospel in themselves and others. Here, then, are 
two important objects held up before the Christian, demand- 
ino- his efforts, and tliese are, The sanctification of believers 
and The conversion of sinners. The Gospel is not the poAver 
of God to salvation until it is cordially received and cheer- 
fully obeyed, and it is the business of the Christian to strive 

397 



398 CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 

that it may liave free course in his own heart, the hearts of 
his fellow-disciples and the world lying in wickedness. 

1 . His own heart is the first theatre of his efforts. If he 
be really the servant of Christ, it must be his supreme desire 
to glorify his Father in heaven by a Avell-ordered life and 
godly conversation. He cannot be content with a bare hope 
that he has passed from darkness to light, but he strives and 
prays and labours that the body of sin may be mortified in 
him, and that he may day by day become more conformed to 
the image of Christ. His regard is fixed on holiness, his 
hatred is directed against sin, and he can neither be content 
nor at rest until he is freed from every vestige of corruption 
and indwelling sin, which will only be when he awakes from 
the sleep of death in his Redeemer's likeness. " I shall be 
satisfied," says David, " when I awake in Thy likeness." 
Sanctification, progressive growth in grace, and the having 
his light shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day 
he knows is his privilege, secured to him in the Covenant 
of Grace, and he shows by his eflforts and evinces by his life 
that he feels it to be a sweet, delightful, precious privilege. 
Such are the Christian's views of his own heart, such his 
regard for the glory of God and the beauty of holiness, that 
he cannot intermit or relax his eiforts so long as the deceit- 
fulness of the one distresses or the loveliness of the other 
allures him. Now this holiness of heart can be obtained 
only through the faith of the Gospel. Christ by His Spirit 
sanctifies the soul, and the Christian must be found resting 
upon Christ and looking to Christ for every blessing of the 
Covenant of Grace. " Without Me ye can do nothing;" and 
hence the faith of tlie Gospel is peculiarly dear to him who 
hungers and thirsts for holiness of heart. There alone we 
see our strength — that strength of Christ which is imparted 
to us through the medium of faith. 

2. The edification of the body of Christ is another field 
of important effort presented to the Christian. The believer 
is not to be viewed merely as a solitary individual ; he is a 
member of a great and glorious community, and his efforts 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 399 

must be aimed at the welfare of that whole community on 
earth as well as of himself. He must look not on his own 
things alone, but on those of others. The good of the visi- 
ble Church would be much more extensively promoted if 
each individual member could be brought to feel more 
deeply his own personal responsibility to labour for its wel- 
fare. The Church is the light of the world, and upon the 
conduct of every professing Christian much depends in 
regard to the brilliancy or dimness with which that light 
shall shine. There should be no spots in this moral sun. 
Now, if each Christian should keep the good and holiness 
of his own brethren in the Lord prominently in view as an 
object of his efforts, there would and could not be dissen- 
sions and animosities, coldness and lukewarmness in the 
Church. There would be a delightful scene of perpetual 
revival. It ought, then, to be an object of anxious effort 
with every follow^er of Christ that all his brethren might 
daily grow in grace and in the knoAvledge of the Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ. And for this end there ought to be 
a mutual striving together for the faith of the Gospel. The 
sanctification of every believer is accomplished by the same 
glorious Agent, and His influences are received by all 
through the same medium. 

3. The conversion of sinners is another oliject of effort 
which the sincere Christian should never forget. The world 
is lying in wickedness, under the wrath and curse of God's 
violated law. The impenitent are daily and hourly in dan- 
ger of experiencing the realities of an undone eternity. 
They are already under the condemnation of a holy law, 
and the short season of their reprieve is the only period 
wdiich they have of obtaining pardon and securing eternal 
life. The only possible mode of salvation is through the 
faith of the Gospel. " There is no other name given under 
heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved" but 
the name of Jesus. "He that believeth and is baptized 
shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." 
Unless the siimer, therefore, can be rendered obedient to 



400 CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 

the faith of the Gospel, he must be lost ; there is no hope 
l)ut in tlie Lord Jesus Christ ; and if he reject the Saviour 
there " reniaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fear- 
ful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall 
devour the adversaries." It should, therefore, be a promi- 
nent object of effort among Christians to bring the Gospel 
to bear with powerful effect upon the ungodly and disobe- 
dient. They should labour and pray and live with special 
i^ieference to the case of those who are blinded by the god 
of this world and led captive by the Devil at his will. 
They should regard themselves as " workers together with 
God," as humble instruments in His hand of reclaiming a 
lost and perishing world to its proper allegiance. He that 
saveth a soul from death hideth a multitude of sins. 

In striving, then, for tlie faith of the Gospel, the promi- 
nent objects before the mind of the Cliristian are the sanc- 
tification of believers and the conversion of sinners. These 
are the great purposes which the Gospel is intended to pro- 
mote, and let it be remembered that nothing will promote 
these purposes but the Gospel. We cannot expect that 
God will bless anything but His own truth, and "philoso- 
phy and vain deceit" palmed off upon men under the 
specious pretence of Divine revelation will prove utterly 
unavailing in the edification of Christ's mystical body, or 
in alarming and converting the impenitent and careless. 
A healthy and vigorous Christian character can be formed 
only by feeding on the solid and substantial food of uncor- 
rupted truth. Not by any means that the truth has any 
sanctifying power in itself. All its efficacy depends on the 
accompanying operations of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy 
Spirit will accompany notliing but Plis own Word. Just in 
proportion as the true faith of the Gospel, the pure doctrines 
and precepts of Christ are enforced and inculcated by the 
life and efforts of professors of religion, just in the same pro- 
portion will the Church be edified and sinners born into the 
kingdom of heaven. Hence, the duty of "striving together 
for tlie faith of the Gospel" is solemn and imperative ; it 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT, 401 

is no less than striving for the salvation of lost, helpless, 
immortal souls. It is striving to establish the reign and 
authority of Christ upon the ruins of sin, iniquity and 
rebellion. It is no less than striving to open the eyes of 
the blind, unstop the ears of the deaf, and knock the fet- 
ters from the hands of the captive and set the prisoner free. 
II. Having now stated the leading objects of Christian 
effort, the next thing to be noticed is the manner in which 
that effort should be put forth. And in the first place — 
1. Christians should strive xcith earnestness. This charac- 
teristic of their efforts is implied in the term which the 
Apostle uses, and which our translators have rendered 
strive. It is a term descriptive of athletic exercises, and is 
manifestly borrowed from the Grecian games, in which the 
wrestlers exerted all their might against each other. We 
are required, then, by the Apostle to wrestle for the faith 
of the Gospel — to exert ourselves with as much intensity and 
earnestness as the wrestlers at the Grecian games. The 
ardour of pursuit ought to bear some reasonable proportion 
to the value of success. Great results should be sought 
with great industry. And what result is so grand and 
glorious as the salvation of the soul? Heaven or hell, 
life or death, eternal life or eternal death, depends upon 
the reception which is given to the Gospel ; and if there is 
anything terrible in hell or desirable in heaven, if the inte- 
rests of eternity are matters of supreme importance, if the 
frown of God is above all things to be dreaded, and the 
smile of God above all things to be won, then the efforts 
put forth in the salvation of the soul ought to be deep, 
intense and powerful. There should be no trifling here ; 
our all is at stake, and at stake for eternity. Who can 
think without emotion of the bare possibility that he or 
his friends may be damned for ever ? and yet who does not 
know that this must be the case unless a cordial obedience 
is rendered to the Gospel ? The Christian looks around 
upon sinners, he sees the storm of Divine wrath gathering 
fearfully above them, there is a burning gulf beneatli them, 

Vol. II.— 26 



402 CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 

and they are fast asleep upon its very edge ; in a moment 
they may be lost eternally, and shall he not strive to awake 
them — strive with an intensity and earnestness proportioned 
to their danger ? Oh if there be an object which from its 
intrinsic value and tremendous results ought to call forth 
all the energies of the soul in strong and mighty exercise, it 
is the fiiith of the Gospel. If there be anything in the 
whole universe of God that is worth contending for, it is 
the salvation of the soul, " Therefore, let us not sleep 
as do others;" let all who are called Christians awake, 
let them strive as one man with all possible intensity of 
effort for the furtherance of the Gospel in the conversion of 
the world. Here is a commanding object requiring com- 
manding energy. Soldiers of the cross ! shall we sleep at 
our posts, and while we are at ease in Zion shall our fel- 
low-men around us sink into the torments of hell ? How 
terrible is the idea that one soul should be lost, and lost for 
ever, through a criminal neglect in us ! 

2. Unanimity is another characteristic of Christian effort 
which is quite essential to success. When the Holy Ghost 
was poured out on the memorable day of Pentecost, it is 
particularly recorded that the disciples were with one accord 
in one place, and the text requires that Christians should 
with one mind strive for the faith of the Gospel. When 
there are dissensions and animosities in the Church, the 
moral influence of the saints is distressingly weakened ; 
nay, these unhappy divisions very often exert an influence 
decidedly against the cause of Christ. And the existence 
of such a state of things is alleged by the Apostle as a 
manifest proof of carnality among the Corinthian professors. 

Christians have strong and powerful motives to unanimity 
of effort. They have been redeemed by a common Saviour, 
regenerated by a common Spirit ; they are animated by a 
common hope and are striving for a common end. Why 
then should they fall out by the way ? Why should they 
wound the Saviour in the house of His friends by their 
wranglings and animosities? They may differ in their 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 403 

views on some points, but they should not permit these dif- 
ferences to distract their efforts and mar their success in the 
grand object of converting the world. They have an im- 
portant work to do, and it too often happens that when they 
ought to be working they are only quarrelling. Instead of 
aiding, abetting and assisting each other in bringing the 
Gospel to bear upon the hearts of sinners, they are too often 
found weakenino; each other's hands and hardening^ the 
hearts of the impenitent against the overtures of grace. 
There should be one mind, one spirit among Christians, and 
that the Spirit of their Master — a spirit of active benevolence 
and persevering effort for the glory of God and the salvation 
of men. They ought to feel the solemnity and importance 
of their business, and then there would be little disposition 
to wrangle with each other. These remarks are not designed 
to intimate that Christians should not resist, and resist with 
firmness, every effort to corrupt the purity of the Church in 
doctrine and in discipline : such resistance is actually striving 
for the faith of the Gospel. All that I mean is that private 
and personal differences should not be indulged by the pro- 
fessors of a common religion and the followers of a com- 
mon Saviour. Soldiers should act together on the field of 
battle. Union is strength in religion as well as in every- 
thing else. 

3. Steadfastness and regularity of effort are also necessary. 
What I mean by this is, that Christians should not be flighty 
and unsteady in the exertions which they put forth for the 
faith of the Gospel, at one time boiling over with zeal, at 
another frozen up with indifference ; now earnest and engaged 
for the salvation of souls, and now as careless as though there 
were no souls to save. This irregularity in their exertions 
for the faith of the Gospel has a decided tendency to throw 
a shade over their own personal piety ; it destroys, by a 
necessary consequence, their influence in the world, and it 
defeats the very object at which the Christian professes to be 
aiming — the success and furtherance of the Gospel. The light 
of the Christian should be a steady and uniform light. Cases 



404 CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 

sometimes happen in which a whole church becomes cold 
and careless and lifeless, and continues so for a considerable 
length of time, and then suddenly bursts forth, as if by vol- 
canic action, and puts forth deep, protracted and earnest 
efforts for the faith of the Gospel, and subsequently relapses 
to the same state of lukewarm indifference. Such successions 
of heat and cold make up the whole history of some congre- 
o-ations, and the reason is to be found in the unsteadiness 
and irregularity of Christian effort. The followers of Christ 
ought always to be impressed with a deep sense of the trans- 
cendent importance of those objects for which they are 
striving; they should feel their value to the race, and then 
there would not and could not be those dreary stages of 
relaxed exertion which too often occur in the history of the 
Church. Christians become cold and careless only when 
eternity is out of view and the value of the soul forgotten. 
The advice of the Apostle requires them to stand steadfast in 
one spirit, striving together for the faith of the Gospel. They 
were not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine or 
every gust of feeling, but they were to have correct appre- 
hensions of their Master's business, and then to exert them- 
selves with earnest, intense, united and steady efforts for the 
success and honour of His name. Their efforts were not to 
be flighty, but uniform ; not irregular, but constant ; not 
heartless, but powerful ; and by such efforts they might well 
expect to advance their Master's cause and glorify their 
Master's name. 

4. The above considerations have suggested the general 
characteristics of the manner of those efforts which Christians 
are required to put forth for the faith of the Gospel. But 
they have determined nothing in regard to the nature of the 
efforts themselves. Very bad measures may be adopted for 
advancing the cause of Christ, and yet professing Christians 
be very earnest, unanimous, steady and decided in pushing 
them on. These features may be found in the exertions of 
errorists and fanatics as well as in those of humble and sin- 
cere followers of the blessed Saviour. The next reflection, 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 405 

therefore, that I would present, is that the measures which 
Christians adopt should be such as become the Gospel of 
Christ. The spirit of the world should not be suffered to 
appear in the bosom of the Church. Our weapons are not 
carnal, but spiritual. The religion of Jesus demands a pecu- 
liar temper, and that temper ought to be observable in all 
the movements of His disciples in striving for the faith of 
the Gospel. " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temper- 
ance." " For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and 
righteousness and truth." 

In these days of morbid excitement and reckless enthusi- 
asm there prevails, in some quarters of the Church, a melan- 
choly disposition to receive a counterfeit spirit for the temper 
of Christ. Measures are adopted and encouraged and de- 
fended which manifest more of the cunning and dexterity of 
worldly-minded policy than the honest simplicity of an 
unsophisticated Christian. Men are trapped into the Church. 
A course of committal, or rather of efforts to make them 
commit themselves, is pursued, which does not indicate the 
simplicity of the Gospel. " Only let your conversation be 
as becometh the Gospel of Christ." The censorious spirit 
which is indulged toward those who are not willing to be 
duped into a ready acquiescence with these unauthorized 
measures shows but too plainly the source from which they 
spring. In all our efforts, then, to promote and strive for 
the faith of the Gospel, let nothing be done in a spirit which 
the Gospel must condemn. Let all our measures be charac- 
terized by that honest simplicity and unsophisticated charity 
which are so conspicuously manifest in the character of Jesus. 
Let there be no breach of that decency, sobriety, dignity and 
decorum which become us no less as men than as Christians. 
And in our universal deportment let the world see the 
natural influence of the Gospel when cordially received and 
cheerfully obeyed. The Gospel can be lived as well as 
preached — enforced by the life as well as from the desk. 
Cultivating, then, the Spirit of Christ, let us put forth our 



40() CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 

efforts earnestly, unanimously, steadily and firmly in striving 
together for the faith of the Gospel. 

5. Everything should be done, however, under a sense of 
deep and entire dependence upon God for success. Paul 
may plant and Apollos water, but God alone can give the 
increase. He alone has power to convert or sanctify tlie 
soul. All the help of man, all our earnest, warm and per- 
severing- efforts to alarm and awaken the sinner and lead 
him to the Saviour, will be utterly unavailing unless the 
Spirit of God should accompany the truth with His gracious 
and saving operations. The truth of itself can do nothing 
at all in the way of a saving work, but it is mighty when 
wielded by the Spirit and driven home upon a heart pre- 
paretl by the Spirit to receive it. The agency of the Holy 
Spirit is a fact which, in the fullness of our arrogance and 
})ride, we are shamefully prone to forget. It is an humbling 
doctinne, but then the Christian must keep it in view, and 
liave his eyes continually directed to that Agent if he would 
be successful in his efforts for the furtherance of the Gospel. 
The Holy Spirit must have the glory of His own work ; and 
if we assume to ourselves and ascribe to our own doings 
what belongs only to Him, we may expect leanness and bar- 
renness and miserable disappointment until Ave shall Iiave 
learned the true source of all spiritual strength. 

All our Christian efforts, therefore, should be carried on 
in a spirit of dependence upon God. The blessing of His 
Holy Spirit must be continually invoked, as that alone whicli 
can give efficiency and success to the movements of the 
Church. *' The excellency is of God and not of men." It 
is God's Avork and not ours, and we should not dare to 
assume the glory to oui*selves. 

We have now seen the great ends for Avhich a Christian 
should vStrive, the maimer in which he should strive, and, in 
conclusion, it might be Avell to suggest a few considerations 
showing the necessity of striving. The believer in Christ 
becomes a servant of Christ : " Ye are not your own, ye 
are bought with a price;" and it is surely the part of au 



CHRISTIAN EFFORT. 407 

affectionate and faithful servant to feel a strong attachment 
to the interests of his master. Shall not the Christian, 
then, labour in the Lord's vineyard with all possible dili- 
gence and industry ? Shall he not be deeply concerned for 
his Master's cause, and exert all his powers and energies in 
carrj'ing it onward? We are not our own. Our great 
business is to labour for Christ, for heaven, for eternity. 
We have no right to consult ease and comfort and self- 
indulgence. We are the Lord's, and His glory is the great 
end which we should ever have in view. 

The consequences which depend upon our efforts are 
tremendous. Sinners are in the gall of bitterness and the 
bonds of iniquity, under the wrath of God and the curse 
of a holy law, and there is no possible way of escape but in 
the faith of the Gospel. 

If Christians, then, value the souls of their fellow-men, 
if they look upon salvation as a matter of eternal moment, 
considerations of humanity, independently of any regard to 
the glory of God, would urge them to labour and toil and 
pray and strive for the success of the Gospel. It is the 
only hope of a sinking world ; it is in the hands of Chris- 
tians, and they are required to proclaim its glad tidings of 
hope and pardon and mercy to every creature. Shall they 
not strive, then, with earnest, unanimous, steady, persever- 
ing efforts for the recovery of their race ? Is there a man 
who professes to have the spirit of the Saviour that would 
wish to be exempt from a work like this? Is there one 
who would excuse himself from the delightful task of 
hastening on the latter-day glory of the Church ? This is 
an age of great enterprises. None are too humble or too 
poor to labour for the Saviour. All have some influence, 
all have some work assigned them, and it is the duty of all 
to be just in that part of the field which the Redeemer has 
allotted to them. May we all be found of Him in well- 
doing — faithful, laborious and devoted servants, such as the 
Lord will delight to honour ! 



PEEFATOKY NOTE. 



The discourse on The Sacrifice of Christ the Type and 
Model of Missionary Effort, still more fully than the preceding 
one on Christian Effort, forms a suitable conclusion and application 
of the Doctrines of Grace, and is therefore inserted here at the close of 
their discussion. The former portion of it covers briefly the same 
ground as the Discoui'se on the Priesthood of Christ, but the reader will 
not object to perusing again, in a somewhat ditlerent form, that which, 
we are sure, will be found both edifying and comforting. 

This Discourse was a sermon preached by appointment of the Board 
of Foreign Missions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in the United States of America (Old School), in the First Pres- 
byterian Church, New York, on Sabbath, May 18, 1856, and was pub- 
lished by order of the General Assembly. 

The text of the sermon was, "Therefore doth my Father love me, 
because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh 
it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, 
and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received 
of my Father." John x. 17, 18. 

It was this sermon respecting which Dr. Addison Alexander, who was 

a hearer of it, remarked to a friend that it was as fine a specimen of 

Demosthenian eloquence as he had ever heard from the pulpit, and that 

it realized his idea of what preaching should be. It is pleasant to record 

this tribute from one eminent scholar and pi-eacher to another, honourable 

alike to both. 

409 



THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

THE 

TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 



rnmS passage (John x. 17, 18), so rich, is yet so awful and 
-L mysterious that it is not without fear and trembling I 
have ventured to make it the subject of discussion. It 
pierces the depths of eternity and lays bare the counsel of 
peace betwixt the Father and the Son. The " command- 
ment " of which it speaks is nothing more nor less than the 
commission to the Son to be the Saviour of the world — a 
commission to which allusion is frequently made in the 
Scriptures under the emphatic designation of the will of God. 
" For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own Avill, 
but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the Father's 
will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given 
me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at 
the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent me, 
that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth in Him, 
may have everlasting life ; and I will raise him up at the 
last day." To the same "commandment" or commission 
concerning the redemption of men the Psalmist refers when 
he introduces the Son as exclaiming : " Lo, I come ; in the 
volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy 
will, O my God ; yea. Thy law is within my heart ;" and 
it is to the infinite satisfaction which Jesus took in the 
execution of the trust that He Himself refers in the memor- 

411 



412 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

able words : " My meat is to do the will of Him that sent 
me, and to finish His work." This is the will which was 
supreme with Him in the garden of Gethsemaue, and 
nerved His soul for the horrors of the cross ; the will for 
which He was born, for which He died, for which He rose 
again, for which He lives and reigns — the rule and meas- 
ure, in a single word, of the mediatorial economy. 

What is particularly remarkable in the text is the light 
which it throws upon the nature of the trust. Though 
styled a will, a commandment, a commission, it is not so 
much an authoritative law as the accepted condition of a 
voluntary compact. It binds, not by virtue of a right to 
command, but by virtue of a consent to obey. The Saviour 
appears not as a subject, but a prince, an equal party to a 
high and sovereign treaty. He claims complete jurisdic- 
tion of Himself: " I have power to lay down my life, and 
I have power to take it again. No man taketh it from me, 
but I lay it down of myself." These words bear the bur- 
den of the Godhead ; no creature could sustain their weight. 
Jesus here asserts to Himself the essential independence 
which separates contingent from necessary being, and appro- 
priates that intrinsic immortality which belongs exclusively 
to Him who lifts His hand to heaven, and says, I live for 
ever. They are words which none can consistently employ 
but He who is God over all and blessed for evermore, and 
may therefore be accepted as an unequivocal testimony that 
as the Father hath life in Himself, so, by the mysterious 
communication of His essence, hath He given to the Son to 
have life in Himself. The absolute sovereignty which Jesus 
assumes to Himself can be reconciled with no hypothesis 
short of the acknowledgment that He is the blessed and 
only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The 
natural import of His language is : "I have received a 
commission from my Father, not as a dependent subject in 
whom it would be treason to have an independent thought, 
but as a free and an equal party whose only law is in Him- 
self; and though it is not possible that there can be any 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 413 

discordancy betwixt the Father and myself, yet the harmony 
is not obedience, but concurrence — the result not of a sense 
of duty, but of unity of nature. My acceptance of the trust 
is not the necessary allegiance of a creature, but the volun- 
tary consent of a sovereign. The redemption of the world 
is not a task imposed upon me as the expression of a supe- 
rior will which leaves me no liberty to decline, but a work 
cheerfully assumed, deriving all its obligation from my own 
cordial assent. It is not a command which, as a servant, I 
am bound to obey, but a treaty to which, in the depths of 
eternity, I have plighted my princely faith." This para- 
phrase which I have ventured to put into the mouth of the 
Saviour accords precisely with the prevailing tenor of the 
Scriptures. You cannot fail to recall that exquisite passage 
in the Psalms already recited, in which, when sacrifices and 
offerings were pronounced unavailing, and among all the 
myriads of creatures none could be found to expiate guilt or 
ransom from the grave — when from the tallest seraph to the 
humblest beast all were alike unable to take away sin — the 
Son is introduced as saying from the fullness of His own 
heart and the exuberance of His own grace, Lo, I come. 
He did not wait to be commanded. The purpose which 
heaved in the Father's bosom swelled in His own. It was 
the common love of a common nature, as free, as cordial, as 
sovereign in the consent of the Son as in the orio-inal con- 
caption and proposal of the Father. The whole transaction 
was a covenant of grace — the only covenant which God ever 
made in which the parties were equal, the only covenant in 
which there was no penalty, in which the sovereign faith of 
the agents was ample security for the fulfilment of the terms. 
The commission having been accepted, the execution of it 
necessarily involved relations in which He would have to 
become a subject and render the obedience of a creature to 
law. But the act which introduced Him into these rela- 
tions, the first step in the stupendous enterprise, was sove- 
reign, free, independent. He was the master of Himself. 
The text asserts that precisely because He was the master 



414 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

of Himself, the disposition which He made of Himself ren- 
dered Him, in a peculiar sense, the object of the Father's 
regard. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay 
down my life that I might take it again. This passage is 
very remarkable ; it seems to intimate that, in these acts of 
Jesus — the laying down and the taking of His life again — 
there was something so glorious as to comprehend all His 
claims to attention within itself; a brightness which hid the 
perfections of His nature and being, displayed in other works, 
as the sjilendour of the sun conceals the lustre of the stars. 
The other glories of His name had no glory in this respect 
by reason of the glory that excelleth. It is a sublime tribute 
to the death and resurrection of Jesus that they are singled 
out as the special grounds of Divine complacency and delight. 
They include within themselves every other motive of love. 
Here the rays of His excellence are concentrated and a per- 
fect image is reflected. Here the Father beholds Him in a 
work which expresses the fullness of His being, which gives 
scope for all the energies and illustrates all the perfections 
of His nature — which declares Him to be the Son of God 
with power. Here His Deity appears in full-orbed radiance 
as Deity in action. Nowhere else can the Son be seen in all 
the intensity of His glory, and well may He say : Therefore 
doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that 
I may take it again. My brethren, if I can in any measure 
extract the spirit of this j)assage and present it before you in 
the light in which it has impressed my own mind, I shall 
not need to say a word in furtherance of tlie cause which I 
have been appointed to plead. It will then speak for itself, 
and its appeals to the Christian heart will be as resistless 
and constraining as the love of Christ. The point to which 
I wish to call your attention is the connection indicated by 
the illative " therefore," betwixt the laying down and the 
taking again of the life of Jesus, and the peculiar complacency 
and approbation of the Father — how it is that these acts of 
His so illustriously display His glory, and absorb Avithin 
themselves all the grounds of the Father's love. 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 415 

In estimating these events we must obviously penetrate 
beyond the surface. xVs the transaction is exhibited to the 
eye of sense, there is nothing in the death of Jesus to justify 
the claim to a complete jurisdiction of Himself so clearly 
asserted in the text. He seems to be the passive and help- 
less victim of violence and hate. He was taken and by 
wicked hands crucified and slain. And to look merely at 
the circumstances of His trial as they lie upon the face of 
the record, one would be inclined to suspect that there was 
much more pretext for the jeering exultation, " He saved 
others — Himself He cannot save," than for the lofty preroga- 
tive of sovereignty : " My life is my own, I lay it down of 
myself, no man taketh it from me, I have power to lay 
it down, and I have power to take it again." It is evident 
that there must be more here than meets the eye — an interior 
work, in which Jesus Himself was the actor, in which the Ro- 
man soldiers and the cross were but the outward instruments. 
The phraseology of the text puts it beyond doubt that while 
Jewish malignity was consummating its scheme of disap- 
pointment and revenge, Christ also was engaged in an enter- 
prise of very different character, in which He could be truly 
said to lay down His life of Himself. The scenes in which 
man figured were but the outer court of the transaction ; an 
auo-ust mvsterv was enshrined within. Significant intima- 
tions of something awful and sublime, in which Jesus was 
conspicuously the agent, veiled beneath the tragedy which 
human infatuation was enacting, were afforded in the display 
of more than mortal power which preceded the arrest, when 
the band that came to apprehend Him " went backward and 
fell to the ground," and in His own distinct recognition of the 
cup, which, in pursuance of the will He had undertaken to 
execute, the Father had given Him to drink. We here see 
that His submission was voluntary — that man had no power 
over Him, except as it was given by Himself At the very 
time when He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a 
sheep before its shearers is dumb so He opened not His 
mouth, He could have prayed to the Father and received an 



416 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

army of more than twelve legions of angels for His rescue. 
He had but to speak, and every arm uj)lifted against Him 
would have fallen palsied by the side of its possessor. But 
the Scriptures must be fulfilled, that thus it must be ; the 
commandment He received from the Father must be accom- 
plished — His covenant-engagements must be kept. He gave 
Himself up to men, and while the scourge, the thorns and 
the nails, the ostensible instruments of His death, were doing 
their office, there was passing in the mysteries of His own 
being a stupendous transaction which filled heaven with 
wonder and hell with dismay, — that " laying down of His 
life " as its sovereign proprietor, which, when adequately 
understood, extorts the confession, Truly this Man was the 
Son of God, and removes all occasion of surprise that there- 
fore the Father should love Him. It were an idle mockery 
of language to find nothing more here than patient submis- 
sion to insult and injury ; and no martyrdom for truth, how- 
ever sublime and noble, could ever sustain the weight and 
intensity of the inference, Therefore doth My Father love 
Me. As Jesus has no rival in His Father's heart, we must 
obviously seek a sense which will leave Him without a rival 
in the transaction which justifies the Father's love ; and as 
the point of admiration is not so much what He endures, but 
what He does, we must seek a meaning that shall represent 
Him rather as an heroic actor than an humble and uncom- 
plaining sufferer. 

What, then, is the nature of the act implied in the laying 
down of His life ? I shall not scruple to assert, whatever 
other interpretations the language may be capable of bearing, 
that it is here to be taken in a sacrificial sense. It is this 
which distinguishes the death of Jesus from the death of 
every other man. He made His soul an offering for sin. 
A body was expressly prepared for Him that He might, 
through the eternal Spirit, present an offering which should 
really achieve what it was not possible that the blood of 
bulls and goats could accomplish — the taking away of sins. 
Interpreted in this sense, the apparent contradictions of the 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 417 

text are beautifully harmonized. Pic lays down His life, 
He takes it again, and is as truly alive Avhen He lays it 
down as when He takes it up. All this is readily explained 
when we remember that as a priest He ever lives, and that 
the efficacy of His work is dependent upon the circumstance 
that He is incapable of death. Plis Divine Person is essen- 
tially immortal, and that assumption to Itself of the entire 
nature of man by virtue of which He becomes a priest in- 
volves a union whicli can never be disturbed. He can never 
cease to be God and man in two distinct natures and one 
Person for ever. Pie is a priest after the power of an end- 
less life. The victim which He offered was His human 
nature, which was susceptible of death by tlie s<^])aration of 
its parts, though the union of neither part with the Divine Son 
could be dissolved. Here, then, tlie Priest, as living, lays 
down a life upon which death may seize without affecting 
the integrity of His own being. He lays it down and He 
takes it again. Both are His own acts, and the inconsistency 
of attributing to the dead the properties of the living is fnlly 
resolved. The language, indeed, seems to be accommodated 
to what we are studiously taught in the Epistle to the He- 
brews concerning the sacrifice of Christ, and no other expo- 
sition — none, at least, which divests ITim of either nature — 
can extricate His words from absurdity or paradox. Plow 
He could die and yet be ever alive; how, as dead, He could 
resume a life which supposes Him not to be dead, — these are 
contradictions which can only be explained by the mystery 
of the incarnation, in which the union of the natures is main- 
tained, each in its integrity, without confusion, amalgamation 
or mixture. The priest lives, the victim dies ; the priest is 
the actor, the victim the sufferer. 

The death of Jesus being distinctively a sacrifice, the ques- 
tion arises what there is in this aspect of it which entitles 
Him to such ])re-eminent consideration. It is not a question 
concerning redemption as an objective work or an outward 
manifestation of the Divine glory, but concerning the sub- 
jective states of the Redeemer, the moral influences under 

Vol. II.— 27 



418 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

whicli PIc accomplished it. The spirit of the Agent, and not 
the result or tendencies of the work, determines His own 
w^orth. The text implies that the motives which animated 
Jesus were in the highest degree meritorious ; that great as 
His achievement unquestionably was, He Himself was still 
greater ; and whatever moral grandeur it possesses, either in 
illustrating the perfections of God or ameliorating the pros- 
pects of man, is to be attributed to the moral grandeur of 
Himself. The Agent dignifies the work. Now, in what did 
the moral greatness of Jesus, as exemplified in His death, 
consist ? 

To elucidate this point, all that is necessary is distinctly 
to apprehend the nature of a sacrifice, which, as to its matter, 
may be compendiously defined as the satisfaction of the 
penalty of the law, and, as to its form or specific difference, 
an act of worship. Guilt expiated by an office of devotion, 
— this embraces the prominent conceptions. Hence it always 
imj)lies a Priest, who presents the victim and celebrates the 
worship. In the death of Christ, therefore, if we would 
attain to a just conception of the moral excellence reflected 
by it, we must consider alike the matter and the form — the 
judicial sentence, and the spirit of religion in which the 
offering was laid upon the altar. Let us then contemplate, 
for a moment, the form of His death as an act of worship, 
evolve the elements of piety which prompted it, and measure 
their extent and intensity by the trial to which they w'cre 
subjected. 

1. The moral grandeur of the death of Jesus is not a lit- 
tle enhanced when it is apprehended in its distinctive charac- 
ter as an act of worship. If we consider it exclusively in 
the light of a judicial sentence, and detach from the Saviour 
those active sentiments of ])iety and religion which make 
him a doer rather than a sufferer, we may understand the 
principles of moral government which underlie the atone- 
ment, but we shall fail to appreciate the dignity and glory 
of Jesus. It is not right to consider Him as the helpless 
victim of inexorable wrath ; and all the imputations upon 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 419 

the goodness and clemency of God, which the malice of the 
human heart has made His vicarious punishment the pre- 
text of suggesting, are at once dispelled when we enter into 
His own mind, and sec the spirit of devotion in which He 
presented His soul as an offering for sin. His satisfaction 
is not merely the ground upon wliich others are at liberty 
to approach and adore the Divine perfections ; it is itself a 
stupendous act of prayer and an amazing tribute of praise. 
We dare not entertain the thought, even for an instant, that 
the Father is harsh or vindictive, or tliat a cloud obscures 
the benevolence of His nature, when the very circumstances 
which are most revolting in the tragedy of Calvary are ele- 
ments of a worship which the Son delighted to render, and 
felt that the Father was glorious in accepting. Considered 
as an act of worship, there is a majestic awe, a moral 
sublimity thrown around the death of Jesus, which fails to 
be impressed when attention is exclusively confined to the 
legal principles which made it indispensable to the pardon 
of the guilty. It is invested with a sacredness which makes 
us pause and adore. Never ^yas there such a doxology as 
when Jesus died, and the whole work of redemption is a 
grand litany w^hich has no parallel in the history of the 
universe. There can be no wonder that the Father should 
love the Son. Such worshippers are not to be dismissed 
from the sanctuary, nor such homage lightly esteemed. 
Never, never was there displayed before, and never, never 
will there be displayed again, such piety as that which 
burned in the bosom of Jesus when He laid down His life 
of Himself. 

2. This will appear from considering the principles 
involved, or those moral elements without which the form 
of worship degenerates into an idle mockery. The internal 
feelings of the priest must correspond to the external sig- 
nificance of the act. His offering must express the sponta- 
neous sentiments of the heart, or the whole service becomes 
an empty parade of hypocrisy. Noav, what are the motives 
which alone could be adequate to prompt to such an under- 



420 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

taking as the death of Christ, and to prompt to it specilieally 
in the light of a solemn office of religion ? The first, most 
obviously, is an intense sense and admiration of the holiness 
and justice of God, and a corresponding sense and detesta- 
tion of the sinfulness of sin. This is the very language of 
a sacrifice, considered in its matter as the expiation of guilt 
and in its form as an act of worship. If there could have 
been a cheaper redemption for the race, if sin could have 
been pardoned at a less expense of suifering and of blood, 
if any other law could have given righteousness consistently 
with the integrity of the Divine character, we can hardly 
conceive that Jesus should have consented to experience 
gratuitous pain ; and mucli less can we comprehend how He 
could have rendered a tribute of worship to the Father on 
the ground of an exaction which could not be vindicated 
from the charge of cruelty. The strongest argument to me 
for the necessity of the atonement is that Jesus died in the 
spirit of devotion. When I consider His soul as a pious 
offering, and then reflect that He celebrates the grace and the 
condescension of God in accepting the gift ; when I consider 
the extent and severity of His sufferings^ aud then remem- 
ber that all were endured to express to the universe His 
sense of tlie Divine holiness, I ask no more : I am satisfied 
that thus it must be — that without the shedding of this pre- 
cious blood there could be no remission. So intense was 
His conviction that His death was indispensable to the 
righteous pardon of the guilty that He seems to have cov- 
eted the cross, and to have been straitened for Plis baptism 
of blood. He could not brook the thought that man should 
be saved at the peril of the Divine glory, and whatever His 
Father's honour demanded He was pre})ared to render at 
any cost of self-denial to Himself. Our finite minds are 
incapable of conceiving the extent to which the principle 
of holiness, the principle of supreme regard for the charac- 
ter of God, energized Mithin Him when He made His 
soul an offering for sin ; and when I figure to myself the 
scene, and undertake to penetrate into the workings and 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 421 

emotions of the Saviour's heart, I am irresistibly impressed 
with the conviction that nothing short of the Divine nature 
could have been the dwelling-place of such zeal. I see not 
so much an admiration of the holiness of God as the ener- 
gies of that holiness itself I see the Father reflected in 
the Son. The piety of the Priest flows from a fountain of 
inexhaustible fullness. I feel that death Avas to Jesus not so 
much a penalty inflicted as an offering accepted — rather a 
favour than a curse. It was His commentary upon the 
Divine honour, and cuutemplated in this light all that was 
revolting and terrible — His groans, amazement, agony and 
horror, His strong crying and tears — all lose their harshness, 
except as marking the malignity of sin, and become expres- 
sions of love and piety and zeal. I forget the sufferer in 
the actor, and enter into that awful reverence for God which 
invests the cross with the sanctities of worship and converts 
its shame into glory. I feel the moral sublimity of the 
scene. The beauty of holiness gilds its terrors. I am at 
no loss to understand that the Father should love the Son 
because He laid down His life of Himself. 

But, secondly, sacrifice expresses, with equal perspicuity, 
the sentiment of pity for man. Here is the mystery of grace. 
It is not strange that God should be loved with all the full- 
ness of the Saviour's being, but it is strange that our fallen 
race should be made the object of a condescension which our 
capacities are incompetent to measure. The philosopher 
finds mysteries in nature. His inquiries begin with the 
incomprehensible, and end by attributing an equal wonder 
to all the phenomena of life. The department of grace is, 
in this respect, a perfect counterpart to that of nature. All 
is wonderful, but that which is most amazing, which com- 
municates least with any ordinary measures of ])robal)ility, 
is God's love to the sinner. This is the starting-point in 
the scheme of redemption. The whole necessity of priest- 
hood arises from the niiscries of man as viewed by a nature 
at once supremely holy and good. Sacrifice is the combined 
expression of righteousness and grace. " God so loved the 



422 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

world '^ is the explanation of one mystery by another equally 
incomprehensible. The charity for man which sacrifice 
obviously expresses was conspicuous in the whole career of 
Jesus. His bosom glowed with love. He had compas- 
sion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, 
and such was the ardour of His zeal, such the intense 
vigour of His philanthropy, that no ingratitude or cruelty 
could quench its fires. " Father, forgive them, for they know 
not what they do," is a key wliicli unlocks the secrets of 
His heart. 

3. These two elements — love to God and love to man — 
which His death, considered as a sacrifice, expresses, con- 
stitute the essence of virtue. They are the principles into 
which every form of moral excellence may be ultimately 
resolved. The extent to which they pervade the character 
and regulate the life — ^the degree, in other words, in which 
they are possessed — determines the moral worth of the pos- 
sessor. This degree is ascertained by the severity of the 
trials to which they are exposed. In the sacrifice of Jesus, 
therefore, we are to look for the measure of the intensity of 
His principles ; ^ve are to study His character in the light 
of sufferings. We are to learn how much He loved God and 
how much He pitied man from the cost of His piety and 
philanthropy to His own soul. Tried by this standard. He 
stands without a rival. To appreciate the greatness of His 
virtue we must bear in mind that the occasion on which it 
was so triumphantly displayed was one wliich might have 
been avoided. He was under no previous obligation to 
become a priest and a victim. Pie might have cherished 
His sentiments of sympathy and love for our race, and 
enjoyed for ever the communion of the Father, without 
subjecting Himself to the pains and privations of a mortal 
state. The glory of His nature might have been content 
with those exhibitions of its power which nature and provi- 
dence unfold when they reveal the ever-blessed God. His 
virtue might have reposed in undisturbed beatitude. There 
was no claim upon Him to empty Himself of His Divine 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIOXARY EFFORT. 423 

glory, and to be found in fashion as a man. He was master 
of Himself. Nothing but the sublimity of His ])rinciples, 
the godlike greatness of His heart, brought Him to the 
earth,, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief Neither, 
again, was it a momentary enthusiasm or sudden ebullition 
of heroic ardour. The principles from which He acted were 
the settled principles of His soul ; they were the life of His 
life. Had they failed or suffered abatement at any stage 
in the progress of His work, the worship would have been 
adulterated and the victim blemished. His zeal for God 
never cooled, His charity for man never lessened. What 
grandeur do these considerations throw around the charac- 
ter of Jesus ! Can there be a loftier height of virtue, an 
intenser energy of holiness ? All creatures here, with their 
superficial trials, retire into the shade. Jesus stands un- 
rivalled and alone the possessor of a virtue which none can 
understand, and none can adequately love, but He who can 
fathom the deep things of God. 

" There is reason to believe," says Robert Hall, '^ that 
in a moral — that is, in the highest point of view — the 
Redeemer, in the depth of His humiliation, w^as a greater 
object of attention and approbation, in the eye of His 
Father, than when He sat in His original glory at God's 
right hand ; the one being His natural, the other peculiarly 
His moral elevation." His virtue was put to the strongest 
trial which Omnipotence could exact. The work on which 
He entered, and which, however His humanity sometimes 
quailed and trembled, the Priest prosecuted with unabated 
ardour and consistency of purpose, was a work whose dif- 
ficulties could only be estimated by Him who can take the 
length and breadth of God's hatred to sin. The tragedy 
of Calvary was no scenic exhibition of fictitious terror and 
distress. The victim was roasted with fire. Behold the 
man ! and be astonished at the spectacle, " His visage is 
so marred more than any man, and His form more than the 
sons of men." Tell me, ye that pass by, is there any sor- 
row like unto His sorrow? My brethren, this is holy 



424 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

ground, and we must take the shoes from our feet. We 
can only admire and adore. There never was witnessed 
such a scene in the universe before — the infinite holiness and 
goodness of God sounded to their depths, the whole moral 
energy of the Godhead in action. Well might the angels 
stoop from their heights and desire to look into this mys- 
tery ; well might there be silence, the silence of profound 
admiration, in heaven ; well might the sun be darkened, the 
earth convulsed and the very dead startled, when moral 
elements were at work on a scale of infinite grandeur 
before wliich the earth, the sea and the sky, and all mate- 
rial things, dwindle into littleness as mirrors of the glory 
of God. When I contemplate Calvary and comprehend 
the spirit of the agent who there laid do\vn His life — when 
I see Jtsus putting into action and trying to the utmost the 
whole essence of virtue — I ask for no other explanation; the 
text is solved : Therefore doth My Father love me. 

The text, it will be noticed, connects the love of the Father 
not only with the laying down, but with the taking again, 
of tlie life of Jesus. From what has been said, the extra- 
ordinary merit of the first may be readily perceived, but the 
influence of the latter consideration is not so obvious. That 
the resurrection of the Saviour, as the proof of the complete- 
ness of His satisfaction, is essential to the justification of the 
sinner, is manifest from the nature of the case ; that it was 
indispensable to the discharge of the remaining office of His 
priesthood — intercession before God — and to His entrance 
into His kingdom, is equally apparent. But these are not 
the points to which the text alludes. It is represented as 
having an influence, not upon His work, but upon the feel- 
ings of the Father to His Person. The doctrine is, that the 
love of which He is the object on account of His death 
demands His resurrection as equally essential. His death 
could not, in other words, make Him the subject of Divine 
complacency and delight if that death were regarded as 
final. Understood in this light, it enhances the tribute to 
the personal glory of the Saviour. Such were the trans- 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 425 

cendent merits of His virtue iii the laying down of His life 
that it Avoukl be an imputation upon the Divine character to 
permit such an exhibition to pass without a conspicuous 
reward. The thought that such a life should hopelessly 
perish would be intolerable from the veiy greatness of its 
worth. The nobleness of the sacrifice demands a propor- 
tionate compensation. It was not the heroism of necessity 
or duty ; it was a spontaneous outburst of the most exalted 
magnanimity, for which there was no call but its own un- 
rivalled greatness. Creatures may do well, but no mere 
creature can deserve. But here there was merit, and merit 
of the loftiest character. God's government would have 
been wanting in essential justice, and the Divine resources 
been defective, if such virtue could have existed without the 
opportunity of signalizing its worth by appropriate rewards. 
It must be honoured or there would have been a blank, a 
chasm, a dark spot, in the moral administration of Heaven. 
Jesus, therefore, must rise again, not merely for His people's 
sake, but for His own name ; and when we read the mag- 
nificent honours which ai'e heaped upon Him, Ave feel that 
they are fairly His due. Pie deserves to be exalted and to 
have a name which is above every name — that at the name 
of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue confess 
that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. We feel 
that He is entitled to be made Head over all things, and to 
have the power not only of presenting His Church without 
spot or wrinkle before the presence of the Father, but of 
collecting the angels under His headship, and extending His 
grace through all the realms of intelligent being, so as finally 
to destroy the possibility of sin. This is the grand consum- 
mation, and it is a beautiful and glorious reward. He is to 
finish transgression and to make an end of sin, to redeem 
and sanctify the Church, and to confirm in holiness every 
order of inifallen being ; so that when His work is finished 
and His glory complete, the intelligent universe by virtue 
of one grand enterprise of triumphant virtue shall be bound 
inviolably to the throne of God. There shall be no more 



426 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

sin, no more sorrow, no more darkness. Holiness is to be 
the eternal distinction of the creatures, because He who is in 
the midst of the throne is the centre and source of their 
stability, and their security is the tribute which the Father 
pays to His transcendent excellence. 

I have now briefly and imperfectly developed the force 
of the illation in the declaration of the text : Therefore doth 
My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I 
might take it again. Jesus appears as a worshipper of God, 
burning with zeal for the Divine glory and compassion for 
the souls of men, and performing an act of homage which 
concentrates in itself every principle of virtue and displays 
the energies of infinite holiness in intensest action. The 
cross is the only spot in all the universe of God where the 
word merit should ever be pronounced ; and when we con- 
template Him who hangs there, and enter into the moral 
import of the deed ; when we rise to the comprehension of 
all that is included in a sacrifice for sin ; when we measure 
the length and breadth, the height and depth of that moral 
heroism which dared to undertake it, — we want no other 
argument ; we feel at once that Jesus is Divine. The im- 
pulse to Avorship is irresistible. We cannot help falling 
down like Thomas and exclaiming. My Lord and my God ! 
There is no glory that we can give to God higher than the 
glory which our moral nature constrains us to attribute to 
the High Priest of our profession. These were the senti- 
ments of Jehovah Himself. He loved the Son, because He 
perceived in the Son the brightness of His own image. 
None could be capable of such an act as the offering of Jesus 
but One who was God over all and blessed for evermore. 
Such merit, which we feel not to be disproportioned to the 
reward of universal dominion, and for which' our moral sen- 
timents demand a compensation that taxes the resources of 
Omnipotence, — such merit it were blasphemy to ascribe to a 
creature. It blazes through the universe in Divine cha- 
racters. It proclaims its own nature. It stands out un- 
rivalled and alone ; and if it be not the property of God, we 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 427 

must cease to ascribe to Ilini absolute supremacy of excel- 
lence. For myself, I am bold to say that the moral cha- 
racter of Jesus shuts me up to the belief of His Divinity. 
There is no brightness in heaven which can transcend the 
glory of the Cross, and if there be a being greater and 
mightier than Jesus, there is assuredly none that is purer, 
holier or better. He fills the love and admiration of my 
soul. 

The application of this subject to the question of missions 
need not detain us long. It has grown into a proverb that 
the spirit of missions is essentially the spirit of the Gospel ; 
but the grounds of their identity are in many cases so imper- 
fectly apprehended that many who call themselves Chris- 
tians are not ashamed to slumber over the necessities of the 
heathen, while others are impelled to exertion by motives 
which have little analogy to the temper and example of 
Christ. The proposition, however, is true, and it is of the 
last importance that the Church should be aroused to a full 
conviction of its truth. Zeal for the propagation of the Gos- 
pel, upon proper principles and for proper ends, is the highest 
exhibition of Christian integrity. If any man have not the 
Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. This is true of the sjnrit 
which He exemplified as a Priest. We also are made kings 
and priests unto God. As our union with Him introduces 
us by adoption into the fiimily of God, so we share an office 
bearing somewhat the same relation to His priesthood which 
our adoption bears to His sonship by nature. AVe are priests 
in the sense that we must be animated by the same principles 
which pervaded His offering, and that we must really express 
them in outward works in the full intensity of which they 
are susceptible in our hearts. Our priesthood differs from 
His in the circumstance that our offerings are only expres- 
sions of our principles, and have no judicial value in the 
expiation of guilt ; and by the other circumstance that, as 
we have no jurisdiction of ourselves, they possess no absolute 
merit. AA'e can neither redeem others nor arrogate praise 
to our own persons. In other respects there is a full and 



428 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

striking correspondence betwixt the priesthood of the Church 
and the priesthood of Jesus. As He was, so are His disci- 
ples in the world. 

1. That supreme reverence for the glory of God which 
prompted Jesus to regard not His life dear unto Him, pro- 
vided Plis Father's honour were maintained, must be the 
dominant principle of action in every Christian heart. The 
Divine character must be sacred in our eyes. The jealousy 
which the prophet Elijah expressed for the Lord God of 
hosts, which Paul felt when he beheld the Athenians devoted 
to superstition, is no transient sentiment of extraordinary 
zeal nor sudden ebullition of romantic impulse : it is the 
steady, settled, pervading principle of the Christian life. 
To be a Christian is to love God, and to love God is to 
reverence His name. In proportion to the intensity of this 
principle will be our efforts to vindicate the Divine honour 
from reproach. We hate sin not merely because its conse- 
quences are disastrous, or its forms repugnant to our tastes 
and sensibilities, but because it is a reflection upon God. In 
all its exhibitions it is essentially enmity against Him, but 
there are manifestations of it which assume the distinctive 
character of a libel upon His name. Idolatry, Superstition, 
Socinianism, all the types of Paganism, do not more con- 
clusively demonstrate that man is by nature a religious 
being, than they demonstrate that the carnal mind is enmity 
against God. The abominations of the Gentile world are 
not the crude rites of mankind, as many philosophers would 
have us believe, adapted to the infancy of human knowledge, 
expressing the natural sentiments of piety and reverence in 
a form as yet imperfectly developed, and promoting the edu- 
cation of the race in larger and justcr views. They are not 
tendencies towards God in the direction of a proper worship. 
They are not the feeble and obscure utterances of childhood, 
sincere and honest, but uninstructed. They are not the 
results of involuntary ignorance. On the contrary, they are 
stages of degradation which men have successively reached 
in their apostasy from God ; they are the utterances of 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIOXARY EFFORT. 429 

alienated hearts, the shinders of malignant and poisoned 
tongues. The heavens deelare God's glory and the firma- 
ment showeth His handiworlc ; the invisible things of Him 
are clearly seen, even His eternal power and Godhead, being 
understood by the things that are made. Creation and 
providence, the structure and laws of our own souls, pro- 
claim His being, His attributes and His will ; so that men 
are without excuse. There are radical principles in the 
mind which, if cherished and developed according to their 
proper tendencies, Avould rebuke the errors of the heathen ; 
so that they may be said to know God as possessing the 
germs of that knowledge in the constituent elements of 
reason. The real difficulty is their reluctance to glorify His 
name. Hence, they become vain in their imaginations, sup- 
press the light of nature, and their foolish heart is darkened. 
Hence it is that they have changed the glory of the uncor- 
ruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, 
and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things. 
Hence it is that they have changed the truth of God into a 
lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the 
Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. This is the 
natural history of Paganism. When the Christian man 
contemplates this spectacle ; when he rises to some mount 
of vision and passes in review before him the heathen and 
anti-Christian tribes of earth ; when he hears one unbroken 
voice of blasphemy and slander ascending from every tongue 
against that Name which angels pronounce with awe, — is 
there no sentiment of indignation, no spirit of zeal for the 
I^ord God of hosts ? Can we hear our God traduced and 
reviled, and yet hold our peace? Can we witness unceasing 
libels on His character, and yet take no step to vindicate 
His injured honour? Can we pretend to have the spirit of 
our Master, who was clad with zeal as a cloak, Avhen we can 
gaze unmoved upon the alwminations of a world lying in 
wickedness, which have l)cen introduced by the arch-enemy 
of God in order to insult and reproach Him? Oh tell it 
not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon! Your national 



430 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

banner is insulted ; your blood boils in your veins, and you 
cannot rest until the wrong has been repaired. Your earthly 
friend is reviled in your presence ; you would scorn yourself 
if you could submit with patience. But all wTongs are 
tolerable provided it is only God who is their object ! You 
must not tarnish my country's name, you must not reproach 
my patron nor my friend, you must taint with infamy no 
earthly object that I love or prize; but God, the God who 
made me, the God who redeemed me, the God who keeps 
me, whose air I breathe, whose earth I walk, and whose 
heaven I hope to gain, — why upon Him you may trample 
and pour contempt, with nothing to fear from me ! Is this 
the Christian spirit ? Is this the spirit which brought Jesus 
from the skies and nailed Him to the cross ? Is this the 
love which we bear to our Father's name ? Oh no, no ! 
Our souls are stirred within us, stirred to their very depths, 
when we behold a world joined in conspiracy to darken the 
glory of God. Our hearts are moved, the fire burns within, 
and we must speak. 

But you object that these reproaches cannot injure the 
Almighty nor dlsturlj the eternal tranquillity of His throne. 
Why, then, be so concerned about them ? Simply because 
they are lies and frauds. They traduce His character, and 
withhold from Him His due. Is your indignation against 
theft measured exclusively by the injury which the party 
may sustain in the loss of property ? — ^your abhorrence of 
scandal founded alone upon the probability of its success ? 
Is this the secret of your zeal for the honour of your friend ? 
Is there no sense of right, no sense of justice, no sense of 
truth ? Is there no such thing as an honest desire that the 
truth should be known because it is the truth ? Has a mis- 
erable utilitarian philosophy exploded from amongst us the 
first principles of morals ? God is glorious; the Christian 
man knows it, and he wants all the world to know it, and 
his anxiety to spread the truth is in proportion to the enor- 
mity of the lie which is supplanting it. The Christian man 
loves God, and loves Him with all his heart, mind, soul and 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 431 

strength ; and tlie spontaneous dictate of love is to maintain 
the rights and vindicate the worth of the object to which it 
is directed. The more completely undisturbed the Divine 
throne is by the calumnies of sin, the more eager is the 
impulse to set the truth before the nations of the earth, 
because the more undisturbed it is the more flagrant is the 
falsehood, the deeper is the shame. 

My brethren, this motive is no visionary thing. It has 
animated the people of God in all ages and under all dis- 
pensations of religion ; and if we are not sensible of its 
ascendency in our own hearts, we have reason to question 
whether wc are fit for that communion in which Moses is 
found, who ground the calf to powder ; Elijah, wdio de- 
stroyed the prophets of Baal ; and Paul and Barnabas, who 
were shocked at the proposal to pay them Divine honours. 
We have reason to distrust our sympathy with Him who 
made His soul an offering for sin in the spirit of intense 
adoration of the holiness of God. Our zeal can never be 
put to any such test as that of our Master. We are not 
required to expiate guilt. All that is demanded of us is to 
speak. We are not to energize commensurately with that 
holiness ; we are only to j)roclaim it, and to proclaim Him 
in whom it has been conspicuously displayed. Let us look 
at His work and then at ours, and can we, for very shame, 
settle down in indifference ? 

2. The form which our zeal for the Divine glory is to 
take — that is, the works to which we should be impelled by 
it — is determined by the influence of the other motive 
which entered into the sacrifice of Christ. We do not 
belong to a dispensation wdiich calls down fire from heaven 
to avenge the impieties of earth. The Son might have 
maintained His Father's honour by consigning our race to 
perdition. But pity moved Plis heart; and while He was 
indignant at the sins and wickedness of man. He pitied his 
miseries. His feelings of compassion were moved, and the 
universe beheld with rapture and astonishment the match- 
less scheme of grace. This sentiment of pity for the guilty 



432 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

and the miserable He has imbedded in the hearts of His 
people. He has cast them in the mould of His own ten- 
derness, and their hearts yearn over a fallen world. They 
ascend the mount of vision as Jesus from Olivet surveyed 
Jerusalem, and the spectacle which they behold of misery, 
degradation and death — the iiends of darkness brooding 
over guilty and infatuated nations, and the curse of God 
settling upon their souls — moves them to tears as the 
approaching ruin of tlie holy city moved their Master 
before them. 

Wherever they turn their eyes sin and death present 
their hideous shapes. Every gradation of wretchedness, 
from the letharo-y and insensibilitv of stolid ignorance to 
the anxious apprehensions and agonizing fears of awak- 
ened consciences seeking a delusive peace in the rites and 
tortures of will-worship and superstition, is seen on every 
hand. Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the 
people. Without God, they are yet seeking Him ; misled by 
their carnal minds, they can never find Him. Tliey must 
lie down in sorrow. There is a light which can dispel tliis 
darlcness, but it has never yet appeared in tlieir hemisplierc. 
There is a name which can heal this sorrow, but it has 
never yet been pronounced in their dialects. Is there noth- 
ing in this spectacle of a world in ruins to stir the compas- 
sion of the Christian heart? Can we look upon our fel- 
lows, members of the same family, pregnant with the same 
instincts and destined to the same immortality, and feel no 
concern for the awful prospect before them ? They are 
perishing, and we have the bread of life ; they are famished 
with thirst, and we have the water of which if a man drink 
he shall never thirst ; they are dead, and we have the spirit 
of life. We have but to announce our Saviour's name, to 
spread the story of the Cross, and we open the door of hope 
to the multitudes that are perishing for lack of knowledge. 
The secret of their misery is sin, and nothing can do them 
eifectual good but that blood, offered through tlie eternal 
Spirit, which purges the conscience and destroys the domin- 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 433 

ion of this monster. We have but to erect the Cross, and 
the millions who are dying from the stings of the fiery ser- 
pent may look and live. Was there ever such an appeal to 
the charities of man-y-a dying world stretching out its arms 
and imploring by the mute eloquence of its miseries our 
sympathy and aid ? 

When the cry of starving Ireland came to our shores the 
nation rose as one man, and by a noble and generous im- 
pulse interposed to arrest, without delay, the progress of the 
destroyer. The sufferers were bono of our bone and flesh 
of our flesh — they \yere our brothers in humanity ; that was 
enough, we gave them the bread which their own soil had 
denied to them. When the pestilence was spreading its 
raven wings over the Southern cities of our own land, their 
brethren at a distance felt it a privilege to relieve their dis- 
tresses by their sympathy, their assistance and their alms. It 
was a just tribute to our common nature. But, my brethren, 
what was the famine in Ireland, what the plague in Charles- 
ton and Savannah, Portsmouth and Norfolk, compared with 
that famine under which nations are starving — that plague 
under which nations are dying? And if we cannot disre- 
gard the call of earthly wretchedness without renouncing 
that humanity which binds us to our fellow-men, what shall 
be said of him who refuses to extend a helping hand, or 
even to entertain a sympathizing wish, for those who are 
rushing blindly and hopelessly into the thick darkness of 
the second death ? Shall we call him a man ? Can we, 
dare we, call him a Christian man ? Can he stand beneath 
the cross and be warmed by the blood which flows there, 
can he be joined to the heart Avhich bleeds there, and enter 
into the prayer which is breathed there, and turn away 
unmoved from the spiritual miseries of his kind? Is this 
to imitate Jesus? I shall not insult your understandings 
by a categorical answer to the question. I shall not doubt 
the authenticity of the scenes of Gethsemane and Calvary. 
The truth is, the apathy of the Christian Church to the con- 
dition of the heathen can only explained l)v the supjiosition 
Vol. II.— 28 



434 THE SACRIFICE OP CHRIST 

of a lurking skepticism in regard to the perils of their state. 
There is a secret feeling, where there is not a developed con- 
viction, that after all they shall not surely die. This plea may 
extenuate, but does not justify, the neglect of the Church, 
for it only denies without destroying the eternal misery of 
the heathen. The appeal to our principles as Christians, 
our love for God and our pity for our fellows, is still mighty 
from the present injuries which idolatry and superstition 
are endeavouring to heap on the character of God, and from 
the j)resent sorrows which Paganism entails upon its vota- 
ries. These are evils which, with minds and hearts prop- 
erly tempered, we could not tolerate a moment longer than 
we were destitute of power to relieve them. We do not 
turn away from our suffering brother who is helpless with 
disease because we are persuaded that after all he shall not die. 
We minister to his present wants. We do not hold our 
peace when the name of a dear one is reviled because we 
are convinced that in the course of time his reputation shall 
come forth like the sun. And so, even if we had scrip- 
tural warrant for the impression that the benefits of redemp- 
tion may, in some way, be mysteriously imparted to the 
heathen, yet we could not behold their attitude to God and 
the manifold calamities of their ig-norance ^vithout feeling: 
our pity and phihuithropy equally impelled to dissipate 
their darkness at once. But the appeal should be irresist- 
ible upon the supposition — which is the only one the Scrip- 
tures Avarrant — that they who are destitute of the external 
means are also destitute of the internal dispensation of grace 
— that they who are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel 
and strangers to the covenant of promise are also without 
Christ, and, because without Christ, without God and with- 
out hope in the world. 

If there is any force in the figure so often recurring in 
the Scriptures, it were as idle to expect a crop from a soil in 
which no seed had been deposited, as to expect the fruits 
of the Spirit wliere the Word had not been disseminated. 
That is the instrument of grace and holiness. To say that 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 435 

the heathen can be saved irrespectively of the work of Christ, 
is to renounce the whole doctrine of atonement, and to pour 
contempt upon that very zeal for the holiness of God which 
lies at the foundation of the Saviour's sacrifice. To sup- 
pose that the benefits of redemption can be imparted where 
the knowledge of redemption is not found, is to violate all 
the analogies of providence and to contradict the express 
teachings of Revelation. But granting that by a provision 
analogous to that which extends redemption to infants, 
those who are most diligent in improving the light of 
nature are led by the Spirit and are in a state of salvation, 
the number, upon the most charitable estimate, is so small 
that it hardly deserves to be taken into account in consid- 
ering the prospects of the heathen world. It would create, 
at best, only a possibility of salvation, while the overwhelm- 
ing likelihood would remain that hardly one in millions 
would avail himself of it. The appeal to our sympathies 
is scarcely affected. The call is almost as loud as it was 
before. There is no excuse for our apathy and indiffer- 
ence. The spirit of our Master is the spirit of compassion 
upon the weak and ignorant and them that are out of the 
way. We must preach good tidings to the meek — we must 
bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the caji- 
tives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. 
But such darkness as that which enshrouds the heathen 
world requires a stronger light than the glimmering of a fee- 
ble star. The Dayspring from on high must visit them, the 
Sun of righteousness must arise with healing in His wings. 
The good Samaritan cannot pass by on the other side and 
leave the wounded traveller to the chances of help ; he 
must alight and put him on his own beast, conduct him to 
the inn and make provision for his wants. We cannot 
slight the miseries of so many millions of mankind, and 
quiet our consciences with the vague plea that their case 
may not be desperate. We know that they are diseased 
and that we have a remedy, and we do not know that they 
can be healed without it. We know that there is salvation in 



436 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

the sound of the Gospel ; we do not know that there can 
be salvation where the silver trumpet is not blown. There 
is certainty on the one side, there is no certainty on the 
other. AVho can hesitate as to what the priestly office of 
the Church involves in such an aspect of the case ? How 
can we explain the strange infatuation of the people of 
God ? There is a spectacle before us of misery and degra- 
dation and ruin, compared with Avhicli the decay of states 
and empires is but the small dust of the balance. A wail 
comes up from the regions of superstition, idolatry and 
error deep and terril)le as that which brought our Master 
from the skies. Millions upon millions are plunging into 
perdition, and we turn unmoved away, because without 
Scripture, analogy or experience we have fancied to our- 
selves that here and there a chance individual may be 
saved. We harden our hearts and steel our sensibilities, 
and yet dare to lay the flattering unction to our souls that 
we are the disciples of Him who, though He was rich, yet 
for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty 
might be made rich. ISTevertheless, the declaration of God 
standeth sure : " Whoso hath this world's goods and seeth 
his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of com- 
passion from him, hoAV dwelleth the love of God in him ?" 
If you cannot refuse a cup of cold water without renoun- 
cing your title to Christ, how, oh how can you refuse the 
glorious Gospel of the blessed God ? 

3. The love to God and the compassion to man which 
reigned in the Saviour's breast were not permitted to evapo- 
rate in sentiment or to expire in transient desires. They 
were active and operative principles, expressing themselves 
in a work which exemplified all their intensity, which tried 
His allegiance to them, and which was really a sacrifice 
from the cost to Him and the benefit to others. We can 
make no expiation for guilt. Our piety and philanthropy 
are not to operate in this way. But we are required to 
evince the truth and sincerity of our principles by labours 
which sliall really express them, and which, in what shall 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 437 

be the cost to us, shall be images of the sacrifice of our 
Master. Those works which put our iutegrity to the trial 
are the offerings which as priests we are bound to render 
unto God. As the dispensation of the Gospel is founded in 
a real sacrifice, all its duties are stamped with the spirit of 
sacrifice. The whole Christian life is a sacrifice ; the man 
must present himself to God as a living sacrifice, and with 
himself he must give all that pertains to him. The law of 
sacrifice is consequently the law of Christian effort. The 
first condition of dLscipleship is to deny ourselves. We 
must tread in the footsteps of the Master. Our sacrifices 
must be presented in the same spirit and with the same 
motives as His ; they differ in their nature, their efficacy 
and their ends. 

As Jesus by His sacrifice purchased redemption, we by 
ours must make it known ; and as there were difficulties 
wdiich He had to remove before He could bring salvation 
to our race, so there are difficulties which we have to 
encounter in spreading it abroad. In these respects His 
priesthood and ours are strikingly analogous, and it is to 
give us the opportunity of showing that we are imbued 
with the same mind which was also in Him that so many 
obstacles have to be surmounted in the work of the world's 
conversion. It would be contrary to the whole analogy of 
our religion, contrary to the very genius and constitution 
of Christianity, to suppose that those whose life has sprung 
from death, whose holiness is repentance, whose great busi- 
ness is to die, should be remitted to indolence and ease. 
They are called to sacrifice. Hence, it does not stagger my 
faith to be told of the magnitude of the enterprise and the 
comparative inefficiency of the means, to be reminded of 
the obstinate and bitter prejudices Avhicli must be subdued, 
the fierce opposition whicli must be allayed, the cruel perse- 
cutions which must be endured. It moves me nothing to 
point me to the long and patient preparation which must fit 
the missionary for his work, the inclemency of climates, the 
low and disgusting customs and rites of heathen nations. 



438 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

All these and a thousand more such obstructions are only 
proofs that the Church must tread in the footsteps of her 
Master, and bless the nations by the sacrifice of her own 
ease and life. These are only proofs that we have ample 
and glorious opportunities of attesting to angels and to men 
that we are really consecrated to a royal priesthood and 
have the materials for princely offerings. I take fresh 
courage as larger views of the dignity and grandeur of the 
trust break in upon my soul. The magnitude of the dan- 
ger illustrates the spirit of the hero. As the whole earthly 
existence of man is modified by its relations to the cross^ 
that cross has impressed its type ui)on our whole earthly 
being, so that nothing great or good, whether in providence 
or grace, can be achieved witliout sacrifice. The law of our 
whole state is life out of death. Learning is the fruit of 
sacrifice, power is the purchase of sacrifice, character is the 
result of many and severe sacrifices, liberty comes from 
•sacrifice ; and look where you may you will find nothing 
that deserves to be called a good that has not cost labour, 
or tears, or blood. The only way to gain life is to lose it. 
This is pre-eminently true in the sphere of our religion. 
We are born into the kingdom with pains and throes ; we 
live there in much tribulation. We begin in a conflict, we 
continue in a conflict, and the conflict never ceases until the 
crown is put upon our heads. No marvel, then, that our 
outward labours for Christ should call fi)r the crucifixion of 
the flesh. We should have reason to doubt their genuineness 
as Christian works if they involved no test of our princi- 
ples, if they required no agony, or tears, or blood. In the 
very difficulties of tlie world's conversion we see the tokens 
of our Father's will. These are the signs that we are called 
to undertake it ; we should rejoice that we have the oppor- 
nity of showing our love to our Master's name and our 
charity for our fallen race. These are the crosses which 
precede the crown, the tribulations through which we pass 
into glory. If we would reign with Jesus, we must also 
suffer with Him ; if we would sit on His right hand or ou 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 439 

His left, or, what suits us better, at Plis feet, in His king- 
dom, we must be baptized with the baptism that He was 
baptized with, and drink of the cup that He drank of. 

I think it of great importance that this peculiarity of our 
work sliould be understood. The whole course of reason- 
ing by which many pacify their consciences, while neglect- 
ing tlie only enterprise in which they can acquit themselves 
as priests before God, is founded upon a radi(!al misconcep- 
tion of the nature of their calling. They expect the moun- 
tains to be levelled, the valleys to be elevated, the rough 
places made smooth, before tliey herald the advent of their 
Lord; whereas this is the very labour by Avhich they 
are required to prepare His way. This is the very work 
which His Church must do. She must cast up the high- 
M^ay for the progress of the Gospel by her own efforts, self- 
denial and prayer. She has no questions to ask but what 
is the will of the Lord ; that being known, to be deterred 
by difficulties is to renounce her faith, and to withhold her 
sacrifices is to be unworthy of the office to which her Lord 
has commissioned her. The full and distinct recoo-nition 
of the truth which I have been endeavouring to present is, 
it seems to me, all that is necessary to awaken the energies 
of God's people upon a scale of grandeur which the world 
has never witnessed before. We have great resources in 
means and men, in piety, learning, talent and wealth. The 
world is open before us. Commerce and war liave broken 
down the barriers of centuries, and the rapid and constant 
intercourse of the nations has brought the heathen to our 
door. The ships are waiting in port to bear the heralds of 
salvation to the ends of the earth. The American Eagle and 
the British Lion are prepared to accompany and protect 
them wherever they may choose to pitch their tents. The 
harvest is rich for the sickle, or, to change the figure, the 
altar is ready for the sacrifice, the materials are all waiting 
to be offered ; nothing, nothing is wanting but the spirit in 
the priest to avail himself of the golden opportunity. Let 
the Church comprehend her calling, let her comprehend the 



440 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

times, and there would be presented to God an oblation 
which would soon change the aspect of the world. \Ve 
should soon be found rejoicing in sacrifices. The father 
would bring his son with delight and offer him upon the 
altar of God. The rich would bring their wealth, the wise 
their learning, the great their power, the poor their prayers ; 
all would bring something to testify their zeal for God and 
their sympathy for man. Commerce would consecrate its 
ships, and war its victories. Soon the name of Jesus would 
be found in every dialect under heaven. The spirit of 
sacrifice is all that Ave want — the offering lies at the door. 
And, my brethren, can we endure the shame, when God 
calls us by His providence and commands us in Plis Word 
to undertake this work, specifically in the light of a sacri- 
fice, in order that in so doing it we may imitate Him who 
prepared us for it by a sacrifice which cost Him His life, — 
can we endure the shame, the deep damnation of our indo- 
lence and love of ease, our cowardice and idleness, if we 
decline to bind the victim with the cords of our love to the 
horns of the altar ? Shall we be deterred by the prospect 
of self-denial ? Who is so base that he would let a nation 
perish rather than forego some little pleasure or encounter 
a little pain ? Who so mean that for his own personal and 
private ends he would be content that the earth should be 
covered with darkness? But your children are dear, and 
you cannot give them up ; you cannot renounce for them 
the prospects of wealth and influence and fame ; you must 
keep them at home, though continents join with the isles in 
imploring your aid. What would you think of this plea 
if your country should call to arms? Could you find capa- 
city in your souls large enough for despising the man who 
could hold back his sons when patriotism was mustering its 
hosts for the conflict? ^t your country's call you would 
gladly give up all. And is there no magic in the call of 
Jesus ? Under your country's banners you would renounce 
your homes, your wives and lands ; you would endure hard- 
ships as good soldiers, and rejoice in them the more the 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 441 

severer they were ; the cold ground, the open air, bogs and 
marshes, disease and hunger and thirst, — all this would be 
sweet to you if it added to your country's glory. And is 
there nothing in the glory of Jesus, nothing in attachment 
to that country of which you hope to be immortal citizens, 
nothing in the great interests of the human soul, to stir up 
your energies and to nerve your resolutions? And are you 
disciples of Jesus ? Can you stand beneath the cross, can 
you behold the Lamb there slain, the blood there poured 
out like water ; can you listen to the cry of agony and feel 
the shaking earth, and shudder at the darkened heavens, and 
then talk of your sacrifices for that Saviour ? Shame, shame, 
if we draw back in the service of such a Lord ! No, no, my 
brethren, let us gird ourselves for the sacrifices; let us rejoice 
in making them. They are but shadows after all, mere 
emblems and images. The true sacrifice was made on Cal- 
vary. The way has been broken up, the Breaker has gone 
before us ; let us follow in His tracks — we shall know them 
by the blood. Let us put our hands in His, and bid an 
eternal farewell to all parleys with flesh and blood. 

4. And as there was a joy set before Jesus, for which He 
endured the cross, despising the shame, so there is a glorious 
recompense of reward attached to our sacrifices and labours 
of love. We are not required to spend our strength for 
naught, nor to waste our energies upon a bootless scheme. 
The reward of Jesus was won upon the strictest ])rinciples 
of right. He deserved the glory with which for His sacri- 
fice He was crowned. The reward in our case is exclusively 
of grace. We can never be other than unprofitable servants ; 
but God, in infinite goodness, measures the expressions of 
His favour by the intensity with which we have manifested 
the spirit of allegiance to Him. All He asks is that tiie 
heart should be in the service; and any effort that reallv 
proceeds from love to His name and charity to the race will 
never be overlooked nor forgotten. A cup of cold water 
ministered in the spirit and for the sake of Clirist is a 
treasure laid up in heaven. The moral significance of our 



442 THE SACEIFICE OF CHRIST 

actions depends upon the degree and severity of the sacrifice. 
What costs us little means little. It is not the external 
splendour of the deed, it is the spirit in which it is performed 
and the self-denial it involves that determine its value in 
the sight of God. If vanity, ostentation or secular motives 
have prompted it, if it have sprung from a mercenary spirit 
and is presented as a price for the Divine favour, if its ascet- 
icism and self-denial are regarded as pleas of merit and 
occasions of self-gratulation and applause, the water is pol- 
luted at the fountain — the victim is blemished, it is the halt 
and the lame that are presented on the altar. The act must 
proceed from love, be a cheerful and voluntary expression 
of love, and vindicate its own sincerity by its cost to the 
flesh. When these conditions meet, there is a reward, which 
becomes the more glorious the less we feel it to be deserved — 
a reward compared with which the poor satisfaction we ob- 
tain in the carnal indulgences which Ave spare in refusing to 
make sacrifices deserves not to be named. This reward is 
twofold — it is the reward of success here, and of glory here- 
after. The first is not sufficiently understood, nor the latter 
sufficiently contemplated. I have no hesitation in laying 
down the proposition that no real sacrifice of the Christian 
heart is ever lost, even in this world. If it is an exercise 
of some personal grace, the exercise strengthens the habit 
and improves the principle of grace in general. If it is an 
effort for the external kingdom of Christ, it enters as a link 
in the chain of providence, and contributes its part to the 
final consummation. Works of grace are as immortal as 
grace itself — they can never perish. As the sacrifice of 
Christ, the great High Priest, was infallibly accepted, so the 
real sacrifice of all whom He has consecrated priests must 
be as really accepted, and must as really secure, in the way 
of means, the blessings to which they were directed. Our 
labours for the conversion of the world, so far as they are 
spiritual sacrifices, must be crowned with success. What 
now hinders the result is, that there is so little sacrifice for 
it. We pray ; but what is there of agony in our pra}^ers ? 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 443 

Who wrestles with God? whose soul is burdened with the 
weight of a perishing world ? or who takes an hour from his 
sleep or foregoes a single meal in order that he may plead 
the cause of the millions upon millions that know not God? 
And are such prayers aacrijiaes f Are they more than 
breath ? — and can there be any Avouder that mere breath 
should not move the Lord of hosts ? What was the spirit 
in which Christ prayed when He made His soul an offering 
for siu ? Again, we give ; but who, like the widow, gives 
all his living? Who denies himself one luxury or refuses 
one indulgence that he may have the means of contributing 
more to the cause of the Redeemer ? How many give oidy 
what they think they Avill not miss ! How many professedly 
adjust their contributions by the principle that God is entitled 
only to what they do not want, and accordingly treat His 
kingdom as they Avould treat a beggar who supplicates for 
alms at the door ! Are such gifts sacrifices, and is it any 
wonder that they should stink in the nostrils of the Lord of 
hosts ? He is no pensioner upon our bounty ; the cattle 
upon a thousand hills are His, and what He requires is some 
proof that we recognize His right — His supreme and absolute 
right — to us and ours. We are not first, and then the Lord 
have what we can spare. He is first, and we are to liave 
what He may allow for our sustenance and comfort. If 
these things are so, it is painfully obvious that the Church 
collectively is not animated Avith the s])irit of its priesthood ; 
it makes no sacrifices for the heathen world, it detains the 
victims from the altar, and the darkness continues to cover 
the earth and gross darkness the people. The few who here 
and there are awake to their responsibilities, and are strug- 
gling to do their duty, will find in the issue that their work 
has not been in vain. Every prayer has told, every con- 
tribution has told, every missionary has told, every martyr- 
death has told, — all have entered into the complicated web 
of providence, and all have aided in bringing about the 
accomplishment of the eternal purposes of God. And when 
the M'hole Church shall compreiiend the nature of her call- 



444 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

ing, and summon her energies to make the sacrifice which 
God exacts at her hands, the period will soon revolve in 
which sacrifices will give place to praise and trials to glory. 

Those who are embarked in the Avork should not be dis- 
couraged because there are not symptoms of immediate 
success. 

As in the discoveries of science, according to the observa- 
tion of Whewell, so in every great enterprise, there are 
always three stages — the prelude, the pursuit, the triumph. 
The prelude is mainly a work of preparation. It is the 
mustering of forces, the collection and distribution of means, 
the marshalling of the hosts for the impending conflict. 
This stage in the missionary work consists in efforts to 
awaken interest, to arouse the dormant energies of the 
Church, and to bring it to a full apprehension of its duty 
and the magnitude and extent of the task to be performed. 
In the pursuit the battle is joined ; and as in the ardour of 
the contest it is often impossible to determine the chances 
of victory or to estimate the success of particular evolutions 
and manoeuvres, so in the great work of missions, while the 
enterprise is still in progress, in the heat and fervour of the 
struggle, it is hardly possible to comprehend the bearing of 
particular achievements or to ascertain the measure of what 
is actually accomplished. Appearances, for the time, may 
be doubtful, when, after all, there is a real and steady progress. 

While Jesus was engaged in His own peculiar work, as 
He approached its termination the appearance was anything 
but encouraging to the minds of His disciples, and the 
victory was gained at the very hour in which all seemed to 
be lost. The corn of wheat must lie under the ground and 
seem to perish before it can vegetate and bring forth fruit. 
In this enterprise, therefore, we are not to be disheartened 
by unpromising appearances. The day of triumph will 
come, and our defeats and disasters will be the means of 
advancing it. What we have to do is to gird ourselves for 
the fight. The faith of God is pledged for the rest. When 
we engage in good earnest in the enterprise, offering up the 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 44.> 

sacrifices of prayers and men and alms, we shall soon sec the 
ensign of the Lord lifted up on high and the nations flock- 
ing to His standard. Victory will perch upon our banners, 
and the shout will thunder through the temple of God, " The 
kingdoms of this world have l)ecome the kingdoms of our 
Lord and of His Christ ! " Is not this a reward worth 
striving for ? And Avhen you add to it that eternal weight 
of glory which awaits us in the skies, is there not induce- 
ment enough to awake the very dead in labours for the 
honours of Jesus ? JNIy brethren, do we believe in our 
religion ? Can we believe in its promises and prospects, 
and yet be so reluctant to make the sacrifices it requires ? 
What have her labours for the conversion of the world cost 
the Church collectively? Individuals have suffered, have 
given themselves and their all as a free-will offering to God. 
Parents here and there have consecrated their children to 
the work, and God has accepted the gift. Young men and 
maidens have taken their lives in their hands and become 
strangers and pilgrims upon earth ; and some here to-night have 
had the distinguished honour of anointing heathen soil with 
martyr-blood derived from their veins. These are glorious 
achievements of grace, and the actors shall flourish in eternal 
renown. But the Church collectively, what has she suffered 
for Christ ? what has she suffered for the heathen ? Where 
are her sacrifices, where her tears, where the offerings that 
have cost her dear? What has our Presbyterian Church 
done worthy of her privileges and resources ? How many 
sacrifices can she count as proofs of her love to God and 
man? I would not reproach her — with all her faults I love 
her ; and when I cease to love her may my heart cease to 
beat ! It is because I love her that I would have her love 
her Lord more, and that I would delight to trace upon her 
the scars and wounds of many a hard-fought battle in His 
cause. I would have her foremost in sacrifices, as she is 
foremost in intelligence, purity of doctrine and simplicity 
of worship. 

I have now, brethren — very inadequately, I know — dis- 



446 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

charged the cliit}' assigned to me. I have taken you to the 
Cross, and discussed this great subject in the light of the argu- 
ments and motives derived from it. My appeal has been to 
Christian principle, Christian faith and Christian love. I 
have pointed you to your Saviour, and endeavoured to illus- 
trate the spirit in which He laid down His life that He 
might take it again. I have explained the nature of your 
own spiritual priesthood, and insisted on the duty, the privi- 
lege, the glory of making sacrifices to communicate that 
salvation Avhicli Jesus made His sacrifice to procure. I 
have appealed to no selfish, personal or secular considera- 
tions. I have drawn no argument from the sympathies, the 
vanity, the pride of the natural heart. I have resorted to 
no tricks of rhetoric, no artifices of logic, to seduce your 
feelings and entrap you into conclusions for a momentary 
effect. I have simply contemplated you as the anointed 
priests of the Lord, and have sketched a single department 
of your work in this high and holy calling. Have I exag- 
gerated aught? Is it so that when our Divine Master had 
completed His work of sacrifice for the expiation of human 
guilt, He anointed His followers with His own Spirit, and 
commissioned them to make the sacrifices which should be 
needed to propagate the Gospel to the ends of the earth ? 
Is it our business to spread, as it was His business to pur- 
chase, salvation by sacrifice f Is this so ? And does not 
the call of the heathen world come to us with a solemn, 
momentous, awful emphasis ? They are perishing in their 
sins. True, it is their own guilt which condemns them. 
Their idolatry, superstition and will-worship, their impuri- 
ties, crimes and abominations, are all the result of their own 
voluntary ignorance, the successive steps and indications of 
a wicked apostasy from God. They are without excuse ; and 
when they stand before the great white Throne every mouth 
shall be stopped and all the world shall become guilty before 
God. Their condemnation is just. But are we free from 
their blood? Have we manifested the love to them which 
has been manifested to us ? We, too, were perishing in our 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 447 

sins, but the Saviour passed by ; and when He extended to 
us tlie arms of salvation and of mercy, He commanded us to 
give to others what Ave had so freely received ourselves. 
Can we face the Saviour by whose stripes we were healed — 
can we encounter the rebuke of that eye which melted Peter 
into penitence and shame — when we confront the dying- 
millions in reference to whom we must have the agonizing 
consciousness that we have made no sacrifices for their souls ? 
Who could brook the thought, saved by blood himself and 
unwilling to endure a little hardship for the salvation of 
others? Were it not for all-glorious, matchless grace, it 
seems to me that the faithless Christian, when he meets the 
wretched tribes of superstition for whom he has done nothing 
that deserves to be counted a sacrifice, would wish to sink 
into the earth or be crushed by rocks and mountains, rather 
than meet that Redeemer who was all sacrifice for him. He 
could not see the scars and wounds and look upon his own 
unmangled body. The sense of unfaithfulness, of shame, of 
baseness, of utter meanness, must be excruciating, would be 
excruciating beyond degree, were it not that the sacrifice 
which saves also cancels. This very consideration that God 
forgives us should make us now more determined not to 
forgive ourselves. The destinies of the heathen are, in some 
measure, intrusted to us ; we hold the key of life. We are 
required to make sacrifices for their souls, and we assume a 
fearful responsibility in declining to do so. It is a vain plea 
that the work is too great for us — that we have neither the 
men nor the means. Have we prayed for the men with an 
earnestness, intensity and fervour that may cause our prayers 
to be denominated sacrifices? Is not this a part of our 
office ? Have we not the means of supporting all that God 
shall give? Are not our resources abundant, provided the 
heart were in the Avork ? Have we done what we could ? 
Nations sitting in darkness and the valley of the shadow of 
death cry to us for light. These nations we have been com- 
missioned to enlighten ; and because the work cannot be 
done with a sigh or a wish, or a little useless treasui'c that 



448 THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST 

no one would miss, we, the priests of God, who have been 
bought with blood and appointed for self-denial, fold our 
arms and say they must die ! We pity them, we are sorry 
for them, but it would require too much trouble to do all 
tliat their case demands, and we must therefore let them 
perish in their sins ! O my God, have mercy upon us ! O 
blessed Saviour, reveal Thy love for ruined man and shed 
it abroad in our hearts ! We are verily guilty concerning 
our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he 
besought us and we would not hear. 

AVhen I consider the magnitude and grandeur of the 
motives which press upon the Church to undertake the 
evangelization of the world ; when I see that the glory of 
God, the love of the Saviour and pity for the lost all con- 
spire in one great conclusion ; when I contemplate our own 
character and relations as spiritual priests, and comprehend 
the diffnitv, the honour, the tenderness and self-denial of the 
office ; and then reflect upon the indifference, apathy and 
languor which have seized upon the people of God ; when I 
look to the heavens above me and the world around me, and 
hear the call which the wail of perishing millions sends up 
to the skies thundered back upon the Church with all the 
solemnity of a Divine commission ; when a world says. Come, 
and pleads its miseries ; when God says. Go, and pleads His 
glory, and Christ repeats the command, and points to His 
hands and His feet and His side, — it is enough to make 
the stone cry out of the wall and the beam out of the timber 
to answer it. 

If Jesus should stand again upon the IMount of Olives 
and summon before Him this venerable court, as He sum- 
moned the disciples of His personal ministry and the apos- 
tles of His extraordinary call — if He should collect you and 
me and all the otiicers and all the people of His Church on 
earth — what, think you, ^vould be the language in which He 
would address us ? It would be an august spectacle — a 
solemn, an awful scene. The words tliat He would speak 
would pierce our souls and stir the very depths of our being. 



THE TYPE AND MODEL OF MISSIONARY EFFORT. 449 

They could never be effaced from the memory. We should 
think of them by day and dream of them by night ; and the 
most anxious cares of business could never drown them. 
The voice would ring in our ears wherever we went — at 
home, in the market, by the wayside, as we lay down and as 
we rose up. It would be an era in our history never to be 
forgotten. Is it presumption to imagine what those words 
would be ? Shall we say that He would reproach us ? His 
nature is made of tenderness, His bowels melt with love. 
His eyes would beam only with pity, but our own hearts 
would be busy with upbraidings. My brethren, there is no 
need for any exercise of fancy. He was once present with 
His collected Church, and He did give her a parting man- 
date — Go ye into all the world ! 

Methinks I see Him here to-night, with His hands up- 
lifted to bless us, repeating the same commission to us ; and 
as here present I cannot restrain the prayer that He would 
breathe ujion us as He did upon the Apostles, that we too 
may receive the Holy Ghost. With a fresh anointing fi*om 
Him we will look upon the world with new eyes and a new 
heart, and an impulse be given to our efforts which shall 
never falter nor fail until the whole earth is filled with the 
glory of the Lord. Amen, so may it be ! 

Vol. II.— 29 



PREFATORY NOTE 



The seven following Discourses on Truth were written and preached 
in the spring of 1851 from the text, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever 
things are true .... think on these things." — Philippians iv. 8. They 
were first published by the Messrs. Carter of New York in 1855, while 
their author was President and Chaplain of the College at Columbia. 
His dedication of the volume was in the following terms : 

" To the Students of the South Carolina College, 

Whose high character for Truth 

Reflects the greatest honour on themselves 

And tlie State, 

These Discourses, 

Originally prepared for their benefit, 

Are now affectionately inscribed." 

It is very well known to have been no departure from the strictest 
truth-telling for their President and Chaplain to pass this compliment 
upon that body of young men. Deception of the Faculty was not a 
crime requiring the exercise of ordinary discipline, for the very attempt by 
any member of college would expose him to so much scorn from his fel- 
lows that the dishonoured youth Avould be forced to abandon the campus. 

The author's preface was in these words : 

"This unpretending little volume consists of a series of Discourses 
preached in the ordinary routine of the author's ministrations as Chap- 
lain of the South Carolina College. He has ventured to publish them, 
because the young men who heard them thought that they derived bene- 
fit fi-om them; and as the subject is eminently adapted to the case of 
the youthful student, it did not seem presumptuous to hope that what 
had been useful here might also be i)roductive of good beyond tlie 
walls of the college. The times require some such discussion as that 
which is here attempted. The author is by no means sanguine, liow- 

451 



452 PREFATORY NOTE. 

ever, of any other success tlian that which may be found in tJie cordial 
approbation of his own pupils. They will accept the work in the spirit 
in which it has been written ; and if it shall have the effect of imbuing 
their minds with that generous love of truth which constitutes the noblest 
inspiration of the scholar — if it shall lead them to Him who is the Foun- 
tain of truth, and to the study of that eternal Word which is the only 
infallible message of truth — he will feel that he has not laboured in vain, 
whatever reception his little manual may experience at the hands of 
strangers and critics. The structure of the sermons may be explained 
by the circumstance that the author sustains the double oflBce in the 
College of a Preacher of the Gospel and a Teacher of Moral Philoso- 
phy. It is his custom to make the pulpit and the lecture-room subser- 
vient to each other. With these brief statements he sends the book into 
the world to speak for itself, and he earnestly prays that He whose pre- 
rogative alone it is to bless, and who can accomplish the purposes of His 
grace as well by the feeblest as the mightiest instrument, may make it 
speak with power to the understandings and consciences of all into whose 
hands it may chance to come." 

Amongst the papers of Dr. Thornwell the editor discovered the follow- 
ing note from Sir William Hamilton, which he thinks it proper to 
append here : 

[CkjPY.] 

" Edinburgh, 23 July, 1855. 
" Rev. Dr. Thornwell — 

" Sir : I beg leave to return my warmest acknowledgments for your 
Discourses on Truth. I have read them with great interest and no less 
admiration. I was particularly pleased with the justice with which, it 
seems to me, you have spoken of the comparative merits of Aristotle as 
a moralist, and cordially coincide with your judgment upon Paley and 
other modern ethical writers. I need hardly say that I feel much flat- 
tered by the way in which you have been pleased to make reference to 
myself; and I remain, sir, 

'' Your most obedient servant, 

(Signed) " W. Hamilton." 

The subjects treated are as follows: 1, The Ethical System of the 
Bible ; 2 and 3, The Love of Truth, in two Discourses ; 4, Sincerity ; 
5, Faithfulness ; 6, Vows ; 7, Consistency. 

The wliole together form an appropriate termination of this volume 
of Evangelical Doctrine. 



DISCOURSES ON TRUTH. 



DISCOURSE I. 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 



THE passage from which the text is taken gives us an 
enumeration of the principal duties of morality. The 
Apostle has been supposed to refer to the different systems 
which were discussed in the schools of Greek philosophy, 
analogous to those which have divided the inquirers of 
modern times. It is remarkable that his language admits 
of an easy application to the prominent theories of Virtue 
which have been proposed in Europe within the last two 
centuries. One, for example, places it essentially in con- 
formity with truth ; another in beauty, corresjjonding 
perhaps to the Apostle's lionesty; another in obedience 
to nature and reason ; another in disinterested benevo- 
lence ; and others still in a comprehensive prudence. Simi- 
lar theories obtained among the ancients. Aristotle and 
Plato have been reproduced in the speculations of Clarke, 
Cudworth and Price, the Epicureans and Soj^hists in tlic 
Utilitarians, and the Stoics in Butler, Peid and Stew- 
art. The import of the Apostle's advice, upon the sup- 
position that he refers to these disputes, is interpreted to 
be : Think upon these speculations, bring them to the 
standard of the Divine testimony, try them by the doctrines 
which I have taught you, and whatsoever they contain in 
keeping with the genius and temper of Christianity, that 

453 



454 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

appropriate and practise ; prove all things ; hold fast that 
which is good. 

Ingenious and plausible as this exposition appears to be, 
it is not, I apprehend, sustained by the context. It is 
rather the dictate of fancy than the result of sober and 
unbiassed criticism. The design of the Apostle, it rather 
seems to me, was to recapitulate several prominent heads 
of duty — to single out certain great characteristics of virtue, 
and to recommend everything in which these characteristics 
were found. He is giving the outlines of an exemplary 
man, and accordingly seizes upon the fundamental elements 
of morality — those data of consciousness which every sys- 
tem must acknowledge, which constitute the touchstone and 
standard of all speculations upon right — and inculcates as 
duty everything in which these elements essentially enter as 
constituents. The first is Truth — whatsoever things are true. 
He assumes the inherent rectitude of veracity, its indispen- 
sable and eternal obligation, and enjoins upon his readers 
to cultivate a spirit that shall reverence and exemplify this 
obligation in the whole extent of its application. He next 
signalizes Dignity of character, the principle of self-respect, 
which saves a man from the contempt of his fellows by 
protecting him from all that is little, or mean, or indecent 
in deportment — whatsoever things are honest; rather, whatso- 
ever things are venerable or truly honourable — whatsoever 
is calculated to command respect or deserves veneration 
and esteem. Then comes the master-principle of Justice, 
or righteousness, without which all pretensions to integrity 
are vain and unmeaning ; this is the solid basis of an 
upright character — ichatsoever things are just. It is not 
enough, however, that our words and actions should be 
exempt from censure ; the heart must be kept with all dili- 
gence, the streams must be healed at the fountain. The 
Apostle accordingly, as his Master had done before him, 
insists upon inward purity, the regulation of the thoughts, 
appetites and affections, so as to prevent the contamination 
of aught that is unholy or defiling — whatsoever things are 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 455 

jyure. Under this head are obviously inckided Temperance, 
Chastity and Modesty. The things that are lovely compre- 
hend everything that is fitted to conciliate or express the 
sentiment of affection and esteem. It embraces such duties 
as Benevolence, Urbanity, Courtesy, Affability and Sweetness 
of temper ; M^hatever, in other words, springs from love in 
us and generates love in others. The things of good report, 
I am inclined to think, have reference to those matters, 
indifferent in themselves, by means of which we can recom- 
mend our persons and our cause to the confidence and good- 
will of others. They not only require the ordinary duties 
of Politeness, but exact compliance with innocent customs 
and harmless prejudices where a failure to comply would 
expose us to unjust censures. They exclude repulsive Aus- 
terity and studied singularity of manner, and every species 
of Affectation or pretension. Here ends the specific enu- 
meration ; but as there might be virtues which are included 
under none of these heads, the Apostle, that he may omit 
nothing, extends his injunction to them. If there be any 
virtue, and if there he any iwaise — if there be anything which 
a good man ought to observe, anything right or praisewor- 
thy, that cannot be reduced to any of these categories — it is 
to receive the Christian man's attention. His relisrion com- 
prehends all duty. 

This passage, then, according to the interpretation which 
has been given, exhibits the model of character which 
Christianity proposes to its followers, and which their 
Christian profession exacts of them that they shall steadily 
endeavour to realize. It is the Apostle's picture of an 
exemplary man. 

As a specimen of the richness and compass of Scripture 
morality I shall single out the duty of Tndh, and make it 
the subject of a series of discourses. Before entering upon 
them, however, I deem it not unimportant to make a few 
remarks upon the ethical teachings of the Scriptures, with 
a view to determine what there is that is peculiar to reve- 
lation, and what is the real nature and extent of our obli- 



456 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

gations to the Bible. This will lead us to a just estimate 
of secular morality, and perhaps impress us with a deeper 
sense of the priceless value of the Gospel. It is precisely 
because they do not comprehend the ethical relations of 
Christianity that many of the educated men of the country 
undervalue its importance. If asked what it is, and what 
it proposes to do for men, and what kind of offices it exacts 
from them, it is amazing how crude and ill-digested their 
notions would oftentimes appear to be. 

I. So far as the simple knowledge of duty is concerned, 
we may err, on the one hand, by exaggerating the necessity 
of revelation, and on the other by exaggerating the suf- 
ficiency of reason. There can be no doubt that morality is 
a subject which falls within the province of natural light. 
To say that we are dependent on the Word and Oracle 
of God, as Bacon seems to insinuate,^ " not only in those 
points which concern the great mysteries of the Deity,, 
of the creation, of the redemption, but likewise those 
which concern the law moral truly interpreted" — to say 
that we can have, from the dictates of conscience, only 
negative conceptions of rectitude " sufficient to check the 
vice, but not to inform the duty" — is to contradict alike the 
testimony of Scripture and the experience of mankind. 
" For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do. by 
nature the things contained in the law, these having not the 
law are a law unto themselves." A being without the sense 
of obligation and a spontaneous recognition of the fundamen- 
tal diffia'ences of right and wrong could not be responsible. 
He could not form the remotest notion of duty, and the lan- 
guage of authority and law might as well be addressed to 
stocks and stones. The elemental principles of right, there- 
fore, which are involved in the very conception of a moral 
nature, must be conceded to man as man. They are the 
birth-rights of his being, and not the legacy of a subse- 
quent revelation. An intelligent creature without primitive 
beliefs to determine and regulate the operations of the cog- 
1 Advancoment of Learning. Works, vol. ii., p. 300. — Montagu. 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 457 

nitlve faculties would be no greater absurdity than a moi-al 
and responsible creature without primitive laws of right to 
determine and regulate the operations of moral judgment. 
But it is equally an error to maintain that, because the 
Scriptures presuppose the moral constitution of man, they 
are of little or no importance considered as a rule of life. 
It is one thing to say that reason is a law, and another to 
say that it is a perfect law. In our present fallen condi- 
tion it is impossible to excogitate a standard of duty which 
shall be warped by none of our prejudices, distorted by 
none of our passions and corrupted by none of our habits. 
We are liable to as great perversions of the original princi- 
ples of right as of the original principles of truth. The 
elements of reason have no power to secure their just appli- 
cation. There never has appeared an absolutely perfect 
rule of duty among any nations, however civilized and cul- 
tivated, that were destitute of Revelation. It is only of the 
law of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures that we can 
justly say. It is perfect. There are two respects in which 
every natural system of morality is likely to be found 
M^anting. In the first place, the difficulty of reproducing in 
reflection the spontaneous processes of conscience, and of 
seizing upon its fundamental laws in their integrity and 
completeness, renders it next to impossible that the verbal 
generalizations of philosophy shall exactly represent the 
operations of the mind. Something is apt to be omitted or 
added. The danger is enhanced by the difficulty of distin- 
guishing betwixt prejudices of education and natural prin- 
ciples ; it is easy to confound a crotchet with a principle, to 
make a maxim of a habit of thought. In the next place, 
the application of these fundamental laws, supposing them 
properly eliminated, to the concrete cases of life requires 
great delicacy and caution. We are as likely to go wrong 
from misapplying a true principle as from adopting a false 
one. The heathen father admits the great law of parental 
affection ; he niisai)plics it when he murders his infant child 
to save him from the miseries of life. The heathen son 



458 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

recognizes the duty of filial piety ; he reasons badly upon 
it when he puts his aged parents to death. Here our 
depravity exerts its power; it is a constant temptation to 
pervert the original j^rincijile of right, to make light dark- 
ness and darkness light. It is here, too, that the principal 
defects of every natural scheme of morality are exhibited. 
True principles are falsely applied. We make crimes of 
duties and duties of crimes. It is not so much that the law 
is wrong, that the prime data are questionable — though they 
are often defective — as that the law is not legitimately car- 
ried out; its proper applications are not seen; limitations 
and exceptions are superinduced by our circumstances, and 
we envelop ourselves in a cloud, and the result is that a de- 
ceived heart turns us aside. The Scriptures, as an authori- 
tative rule of duty, guard against these defects. They pre- 
scribe the law in its fullness and integrity, they illustrate 
its application by description and example, they indicate 
the prejudices which are likely to pervert us, and signalize 
the spirit which will always ensure obedience. By the 
infallibility of their results they are of inestimable value 
to the moral philosopher himself. When his speculations 
contradict their statements, he knows that there is an error 
in his processes ; he retraces his steps and continues to renew 
his investigations until he discovers the secret of his mis- 
carriage. They serve the same purpose to him which the 
answer to its sum serves to the child in learnins; his arith- 
metic. They are at once a guide and a check to his 
speculations. Paley^ has depreciated the sufficiency of the 
Scriptures as a rule, from the absurd notion that if they 
were admitted to be complete they would dispense with the 
use of moral philosophy. He took it for granted that the 
sole business of philosophy was to furnish rules, and of 
course, if they are already furnished to our hands, there is 
no need for its investigations. To save, therefore, the credit 
of the science which he had undertaken to expound, he has 
impugned the value of the ethical teachings of the Bible. 
^ Moral and Political Philosophy, Book i., chajj. 4. 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 459 

His argument is curious. He has very singularly con- 
founded moral philosophy with the moral constitution of 
man, and because the Scriptures "presuppose, in the per- 
sons to whom they speak, a knowledge of the principles of 
natural justice" — that is, because they presuppose a con- 
science or a sense of the fundamental differences of right 
and wrong — he gravely concludes that they exact of men, in 
order to be understood, some tincture of philosophy. But 
it is one thing to be a moral agent, and quite another to be 
a moral philosopher. The Scriptures certainly expect that 
those to whom they speak are possessed of those principles 
of practical common sense without which their instructions 
are utterly unmeaning and absurd. But to possess these 
principles is not to be a philosojjher. Philosophy imj)lies 
reflection, speculation ; it is thought questioning the sponta- 
neous processes of mind, thought returning upon itself and 
seeking the nature, authority and criterion of its own laws. 
A man may have all that Dr. Paley ascribes to him with- 
out having once reflected upon this mysterious furniture, or 
asked himself a single question which properly belongs to 
the domain of philosophy. The Scriptures consequently, 
in prescribing an adequate and perfect rule of life, are far 
from dispensing with speculation. They leave untouched 
its peculiar work. The moral nature, in its phenomenal 
variety and essential unity, still invites the researches of 
the curious, and the more it is studied the more conspicu- 
ous will appear the absolute sufficiency of the Bible. The 
law of the Lord is perfect. 

II. The superior efficiency of the Bible is universally 
conceded by all who admit a revelation at all. It teaches 
duty with greater certainty, and enforces it by motives of 
greater power. Dr. Paley thinks this tlie great merit of the 
Scriptures ; and that it is a merit of incalculable importance 
will at once appear by reflecting on the tendency of temp- 
tation to blind the mind to the truth of the law or the 
danger of the consequences. AVhatever certifies the rule or 
illustrates the misery of disobedience) assaults temptation in 



460 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

its stronghold and strips transgression of its favourite plea. 
The certainty of the law is put beyond question in the Scrip- 
tures, because it rests upon the immediate authority of God. 
It is not a deduction of reason to be questioned, but a Divine 
command to be obeyed. The power of the sanctions is found 
in the unlimited control which He who promulgates the law 
possesses of the invisible world. The legal motives of the 
Scriptures are projected on a scale of inconceivable grandeur. 
The Bible deals with the vast, the awful, the boundless. If 
it addresses our hopes and proposes the prospect of future 
happiness, it is an exceeding, an eternal weight of glory it 
dispenses. Does it remind us of a judgment to come ? God 
is the Judge, earth and hell the subjects, angels spectators, 
and the complexion of eternity the doom. Does it address 
our fears ? It reminds us of a worm that never dies, a fire 
that is never quenched, the blackness of darkness for ever. 
It is a grand system ; it springs from the bosom of an infinite 
God and opens a field of infinite interests. Eternity is the 
emphasis it gives to its promises, the terror it imparts to its 
curse. Conscience, under the tuition of nature, may dread 
the future ; it is the prerogative of revelation alone to lay it 
bare. Conscience may tremble, but revelation alone can 
show how justly its fears have been excited. Hence the 
Bible is without a rival when it speaks in the language of 
command. It wields the thunder of infinite power, as well 
as utters the voice of infinite righteousness. Still, its 
mightiest sanctions are not what may be called its legal 
motives. The scheme of redemption, in its conception and 
evolution, is a sublime commentary upon the sacredness and 
supremacy of right, which, while it reveals the ineffable 
enormity of sin, presents the character of God in such an 
aspect of venerable grandeur that Holiness becomes awful 
and majestic, and we insensibly adore under the moral im- 
pression which it makes. He that stands beneath the Cross 
and understands the scene dares not sin ; not because there 
is a hell beneath him or an angry God above him, but 
because Holiness is felt to reiarn there — the (rround on which 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 461 

he treads is sacred, the glory of the Lord eneircles him, and, 
like Moses, he must remove the shoes from his feet. The 
Cross is a venerable spot. I love to linger around it, not 
merely that I may read my title to everlasting life, but that 
I ma}' study the greatness of God. I use the term advisedly. 
God never appears to be so truly great, so intensely holy, as 
when, from the pure energy of jirinciple, He gives Himself, 
in the person of His Son, to die, rather than that His cha- 
racter should be impugned. Who dares prevaricate with 
moral distinctions and talk of death as a greater evil than 
dishonour, when God, the mighty Maker, died rather than 
that truth or justice should be compromised ? Who, at the 
foot of Calvary, can pronounce sin to be a slight matter ? 
Here, then, lies the most impressive sanction of revelation. 
Not content to promulgate the law with absolute certainty, 
to put under tribute the whole resources of the invisible 
world, to lay its hand upon eternity and make heaven and 
hell its ministers, it rises yet higher and seeks to impress us 
with a subduing sense of the sacredness of right — to make 
us feel how awful goodness is; it reveals its inherent great- 
ness, unveils its ineffable glory. It does not describe it, but 
shows it; and we return from the Cross with emotions 
similar to those of Moses when the name of the Lord was 
proclaimed, and the goodness of the Lord passed before him 
in the cleft of the rock. It is the scheme of redemption 
which croAvns the ethical teachings of the Bible. The lesson 
is sealed at the Cross ; there, and there only, do we shudder 
at sin for its own sake, and reverence right for itself. 

III. But, impressive as the general truths of morality are 
rendered by the tragedy of redemption, that Avould be an 
inadequate view of the extent of its contributions which 
should stop at this point. It goes beyond the giving cer- 
tainty and power to the doctrines of nature. It teaches les- 
sons, and lessons of incalculable value, which philosophy 
could never have dreamed of. It opens a new chapter in 
the book of Ethics, and invites us to speculations as refresh- 
ing by their novelty as they are invigorating by their truth. 



462 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

It is not sufficiently recollected that the doctrines of the 
Scriptures in relation to the destiny of man, the nature of 
Holiness and the means of grace are answers to the very 
questions which were earnestly and anxiously agitated in the 
schools of ancient wisdom, and which the sages of Greece 
and Rome proved themselves incompetent to solve. I am 
ashamed to add that they are answers which multitudes, 
with the Bible in their hands, have failed to comprehend, 
and have consequently been left to grope, as if struck by 
judicial blindness, in a thicker darkness than ever enshrouded 
the sifted minds of Pao-anism. There is a tenfold nearer 
approximation to the teachings of the Bible in Aristotle than 
there is in Paley ; more affinity with the Gospel in Cicero 
than in the whole tribe of utilitarians. 

1. First, in regard to Happiness, which is universally con- 
ceded to be the chief good of man, the conceptions of the 
Scriptures are noble and exalted. The nearest approxima- 
tion which has been made by unassisted reason to their 
doctrine is in the philosophy of Aristotle. He failed to 
compass the whole truth only because man by wisdom can- 
not find out God. He saw enough, however, to impress us 
with a sense of the greatness of his genius, and to make us 
feel that, even amid the ruins of the Fall, there are yet traces 
of our ancient grandeur and dim foreshadowings of our future 
glory. He has taught us enough to make us accept joyfully 
those fuller disclosures of the Bible which illuminate what 
in him and nature is dark, and "what is low raise and 
support." 

I do not know that I can set the benefit of revelation in a 
clearer light than by sketching the doctrine of Aristotle, 
pointing out its defects, and contrasting the whole truth with 
the miserable sentiments which prevail, to the corruption of 
society and the degradation of the age in which we live. 
His fundamental notion is, that Happiness consists in virtuous 
energies — that it is not mere pleasure, not the gratification 
which results from the possession of an object congruous to 
our desires. That is good only in a very subordinate sense 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 463 

which simply ministers to enjoyment. The chief good must 
be something pursued exclusively for its own sake, and 
never for the sake of anything else ; it can never be used as 
an instrument ; it must be perfect and self-sufficient. What, 
then, is the highest good of man ? To answer this question, 
says Aristotle, we must understand the proper business of 
man as Man. As there is a work which pertains to the 
musician, the statuary, the artist, which constitutes the good 
or end of his profession, so there must be some work which 
belongs to man, not as an individual, not as found in such 
and such circumstances and relations, but belongs to him 
absolutely as Man. Now, what is this ? It must be some- 
thing which springs from the peculiarities of his nature, and 
which he cannot share with the lower orders of being. It 
cannot, therefore, be life, for plants have that ; neither can 
it be the pleasures of sensitive existence, for brutes have 
them. It must be sought in the life of a being possessed of 
reason ; and as that can be contemplated in a twofold aspect, 
either as a state or as an exercise, as the possession of 
faculties or the putting forth of their activities, we must 
pitch upon the more important, which is activity or en- 
ergy, or, as he also styles it, obedience to reason. Energy, 
therefore, according to reason, is characteristic of man. 
This is his business, and he who pursues it best is the 
best man. Human good, or the good of man as Man, is 
consequently energy according to the best and most perfect 
virtue. 

This is a brief outline of what I regard as one of the finest 
discussions in the whole compass of ancient philosophy.^ 
The notion is predominant that Happiness implies the per- 
fection of our nature, and that perfection not so much in the 
habits considered as so many states, as in the unimpeded 
exercise of the faculties themselves. The being properly 
exerted is their good. Happiness, therefore, is not some- 
thing imparted to the soul from without ; it springs from the 
soul itself — it is the very glow of its life. It is to the mind 
^ Nichom. Ethics, Lib. i., c. 7. 



464 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OP THE BIBLE. 

what health is to the body — the regular and harmonious 
action of all the functions of the frame. It is not a si'atifi- 
cation, not the j^leasure which results from the correspond- 
ence between an object and a faculty ; it is the very heat and 
fervour of spiritual life. All this is strikingly in accordance 
with the doctrine of Scripture. Happiness there, too, is 
represented as consisting in moral perfection, and moral per- 
fection in virtuous energies. It is a well of water within 
the man, springing up to everlasting life. It is treated as 
an image of the blessedness of God ; and when we remember 
the ceaseless activity of the Divine nature — my Father 
worketh hitherto and I work — there cannot be a more con- 
vincing j)roof that felicity consists in energies. To be happy 
is not to be torpid ; it is not a state of indolent repose nor 
of the passive reception of extraneous influences. It is to 
be like God, who never slumbers nor sleeps, who fainteth 
not, neither is weary. This is the great thought of the 
Bible. The defect of Aristotle lies in this, that he has not 
explained how these virtuous energies are to be elicited and 
sustained in a course of unimpeded action. We cannot 
think without thinking something; we cannot love, w^e can- 
not praise, we cannot exercise an}^ virtuous affection, without 
exercising it upon something. An abstraction wants life, 
and finite objects limit, condition and obstruct our energies. 
Besides this, as we shall subsequently see, the fundamental 
princij)le of virtue is love, and love imjjiies the existence of 
a person with whom we are united in intimate fellowship. 
Communion is indispensable to the energ}^ of Holiness, and 
that the energy may be unimpeded the person with whom 
we are in union must be worthy of the intensest affections 
of which we are susceptible. He must himself be the per- 
fect Good. Now, the Scriptures propose the fellowship of 
God as the consummation of felicity. We may concentrate 
upon Him all the faculties of our nature. He can evoke 
their intensest activities, give them full scope and never put 
a period to their flow, " His favour is life, and His loving- 
kindness better than life. I shall be satisfied when I awake 



THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 465 

in Thy likeness." That man's chief end is to glorify God 
and enjoy Him for ever — that this and this only is Happi- 
ness ; that we enjoy as we glorify ; that the very going forth 
of our energies upon Him, the ever-blessed, is itself blessed- 
ness, — this is the doctrine which lies at the basis of the 
ethical system of the Gospel. It is a doctrine which phi- 
losophy never could have discovered, but which it pro- 
nounces to be just as soon as the terms are understood. We 
are so familiar with the statement of it, we have it so often 
on our lips or hear it so often from the desk, that we do 
not enter into the depth of meaning it contains. In itself it 
is a grand thought, a noble and exalted privilege. Fellow- 
ship with God ! the real communion of our minds with His! 
— what tongue can express it ? what heart adequately con- 
ceive it ? And yet this honour have all the saints. It is 
not a figure, not a flourish of rhetoric, no dream of the 
mystic. It is a great fact ; and in reflecting upon it I have 
often been impressed with the words of a dying saint : 
" Preach it at my funeral, publish it at my burial, that the 
Lord converses familiarly with man." His secret is indeed 
with them that fear Him, and He will show them His cove- 
nant. How coarse and degrading, by the side of this doc- 
trine, do those views of Happiness appear which make it 
consist in pleasure ! which, instead of setting man upon the 
improvement of himself, the perfection of his nature and the 
expansion of liis energies in communion with God, send him 
in quest of the beggarly elements of earth, which all are to 
perish in the using ! There cannot be a greater obstruction 
to the pursuit of real happiness than the love of pleasure. 
It relaxes and debilitates the mind, destroys the tone of the 
spirit, superinduces languor upon all the faculties ; it is the 
grave of energy. Hence is that of Scripture : She that 
liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. If Hajipiness is 
an adumbration of the blessedness of God — and it must be 
so — if it is the glory of man to bear tlie image of God, the 
whole subject is manifestly degraded when it is reihiced to 
the analogy of the enjoyment of a brute. Take the account 

Vol. II.— 30 



466 THE ETHICAL SYSTEM OF THE BIBLE. 

which is given by Paley,^ and Happiness consists not only in 
a succession of pleasurable sensations, but sensations imme- 
diately connected with the body. It is a sort of tickling in 
the region of the heart. He oj^enly declares, too, that there 
is no essential difference among pleasures but that of inten- 
sity and continuance. The main thing is enjoyment ; and 
so a jnan enjoys himself, he need ask no further question. 
The superiority of the soul to the body ; the coarseness of 
some and the excellence of other pleasures ; the dignity and 
refinement of moral, intellectual and spiritual gratifications, 
— all this is idle declamation. He that scratches with the 
itch experiences as noble satisfaction as he that rejoices in 
charity or whose soul turns upon the poles of truth ! This 
■fundamental error, that Happiness is pleasure, pervades 
society. It is the animating spirit of the e